The Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, has expressed dissatisfaction over discriminatory treatment against operators of various artisanal refineries in the region.
This is contained in a statement signed by the National Publicity Secretary of the Forum, Ken Robinson in Abuja.
The statement kicks against the intention of the government to legalize activities of those mining various solid mineral sites across the country without formal approvals.
It says the Forum has decided to draw attention to the discriminatory practice which has been going on for some time.
“It was announced amongst other things that the Fund, which is specially set up to promote the solid minerals sector will very soon extend financing interventions to cater for those who are currently operating as illegal miners” Robinson adds.
“Furthermore, they will all be recognized, registered, and given licenses to improve on their current illegal and artisanal activities”.
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“We have observed that even, in the past, illegal mining of solid mineral resources has been given an official nod at the highest level. Especially, with the launch of the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative (PAGMI) in 2020.
According to the statement, the federal government has decided to go one step further by apparently declaring full support for local artisanal and illegal mining of solid minerals in the country.
The statement acknowledges the efforts of the Federal Government to expand the national economy as dependence on oil and gas for the past 60 years has become overbearing and unsustainable.
“It is shocking that this same Federal Government continues to discriminate flagrantly against the people of the Niger Delta as their efforts to develop local technologies are tagged illegal refineries and therefore daily burnt and the operators paraded as high-level criminals“.
“Even the local efforts in developing technology, which, even the NNPC has not been able to do are often harassed, bombarded, and destroyed, further damaging the badly polluted and degraded environment of the region, A typical story of throwing away the baby with the bath water” he stresses.
PANDE, therefore calls on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to reverse this inconsistency, more so, as it is the money from the Niger Delta that is being used to fund the efforts to regularise activities of illegal miners.
Edited By Georgina Humphrey
Written by: Bukky Alabi
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