Global Rights, a non-governmental organisation promoting equity and Justice and its mining host community partners have inaugurated a coalition called the Federation of Nigerian Mining Host Communities.
The coalition was formed in order to defend and protect the rights of the citizens within the Host Communities whose rights are being trampled upon with impunity due to hideous crimes and flagrant disregard for fundamental human Rights by the miners and extractive companies in Nigeria.
This coalition became imperative under the Section 17(2)(d) Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which says : “Exploitation of human or natural resources in any form whatsoever for reasons, other than the good of the community, shall be prevented”.
According to a press statement jointly signed by the coalition “The coalition was birthed with a view to create a collaborative platform, and leverage on existing relationships between mining host communities across Nigeria to addressing mutual challenges, amplify their mutual challenges, and advocate for the strengthening of social safeguards for environment and socio-economic sustainability of mining host communities across Nigeria.
“The first output of the coalition, was a one day mining host community summit which brought together representatives of mining host communities drawn from 10 states across the 6 geo-political zones of Nigeria.
“The Summit afforded mining host communities across the country an opportunity to dialogue among themselves, with civil society organizations, and the relevant departments of government with a view to increasing awareness and understanding of issues faced by mining host communities, and proffer sustainable solutions for the challenges discussed.
“The Federation’s steering committee thereafter hosted a press briefing on Friday October 11, 2019 to highlight the state of mining host communities across Nigeria, and their aspirations for the current administration.
Read the Communique released at the end of the summit below ?
A Communiqué Issued At the End of The Inaugural Summit Of The Federation of Nigerian Mining Host Communities
On October 11, 2019 Abuja, Nigeria
The Federation of Nigerian Mining Host Communities convened its inaugural summit on the October 10, 2019 at Abuja. The Summit which had in attendance, representatives of mining host communities from the 6 geopolitical zones of Nigeria discussed issues around social safeguards, environmental and socioeconomic sustainability of Nigeria’s mining host communities. The Federation deliberated on common trends in their communities, reviewing the impacts of artisanal, and large scale mining activities on their communities and development. The Federation traced the history of mining and its connection to Nigeria’s nationhood, and its role in the socioeconomic development of the country pre and post-independence
Noted that the Nigerian Constitution mandates in Section 17(2)(d) that the “exploitation of human or natural resources in any form whatsoever for reasons, other than the good of the community, shall be prevented”
Observed that while mining holds the potential of prospering their host communities when done in a sustainable manner, Nigeria’s extractive industry is froth with numerous problems including: fiscal injustice; environmental degradation; proliferation of abandoned open mining pits; consequences of climate change; security challenges; the vulnerability of women, children and disabled persons to rights violations; water and air pollution, negative impacts on traditional livelihoods, destruction of eco-systems and water stress, etc.
Realised that these problems are exacerbated by gaps in the laws governing mining in Nigeria, failure of investors to comply with mining laws and regulations, lack of inter-ministerial coordination; lack of technical know-how by artisanal miners, and failure to respect the rights of mining host communities to free, prior and informed consent as prescribed by the ECOWAS Mining Directive by which Nigeria is bound.
Concerned that the disconnect between the mining companies and their host communities on the one hand, and the government on the other hand, has led to miscommunication of intentions, corruption, poverty, and lack of effective monitoring of mining activities, thereby putting the environment and the health of the people in jeopardy, and negatively impacting livelihoods.
Realizing that shrinking fresh water resources is fast assuming a crisis dimension in most mining host communities across Nigeria and that water is at the nerve of the existence of mining host communities, and yet, mining is a water dependent resource
Noting that there is a need to prioritize which minerals are prime for extraction particularly taking climate change into cognizance. For instance, the world is moving beyond coal, due to its high carbon cost and Nigeria’s COPP22 commitments needs to be reconsidered.
Acknowledging that artisanal mining consists of more than 80% of all forms of mining in Nigeria, and are as environmentally destructive as large mining companies.
Aware that a vast majority of mining host communities like their hydrocarbon counterparts are marked by poverty and underdevelopment, while the potential for development continues to go unrealised.
Acknowledging the testimonials of mining host community representatives from Ebonyi, Gombe, Kogi, Nassarawa, Niger, Ogun, Osun, Plateau, Taraba, and Zamfara states as being accurate accounts the contexts of mining host communities across Nigeria
Noting that gender and disability issues are often left out of conversations and planning around mining thereby disenfranchising them.
Realising that the regime of mining laws and regulations are in need of reforms in order to guarantee adequate protection of mining host communities
Appreciating the role Global Rights and other Civil Society Organizations have contributed to the capacity and development of mining host communities.
The under listed recommendations were made:
- Mining laws and policies must reflect the reality that more than 80% of mining activities in Nigeria are artisanal in nature and therefore must make provision for these activities; and ensure that artisanal mining contributes to government revenue, while respecting environmental safeguard.
- The legal requirements guiding social safeguards, in particular, the process of reaching Community Development Agreements and obtaining social license for mining should be strengthened to effectively protect the rights of mining host communities, and reflect their collective desires.
- The legal requirements for Environmental Impact Assessments should be expanded to become Environmental, Social, and Human Rights Impact Assessments, and should develop standards for even artisanal mining
- There is limited literacy in English in most of the country, government must therefore ensure that impact assessments, laws, and policies are translated into local languages to ensure mining host communities are not disenfranchised.
- Government must ensure that mining host communities are actively engaged and make inputs into impact assessments affecting their communities before they are endorsed for projects
- Fiscal justice is an imperative for ensuring the development and sustainability of mining host communities. Review of the regime of royalties and taxes for mining revenue to ensure the mop up of revenue for a reasonable allocation trickles back to the derivative Host Communities
- Where land is acquired for mining purposes, the value of compensation should be commensurate to the commercial value of the size of the land and the impact the community will suffer.
- Stakeholders, government in particular, should develop strategies to encourage the indigenous ownership of mining investments
- There should be an immediate reclamation of existing abandoned mining pits across the country, utilizing the Ecology Fund
- Government should take urgent measures to mitigate the loss of freshwaters and the ecosystems they support.
Adopted by unanimous vote this 11th day of October 2019