Today, 20th October 2014, Global Rights; CSOs, NGOs and other major stakeholders in the Mining Sector and Extractive Industry in Nigeria including states representatives from Ministry of Solid Minerals held yet another briefing on the protection of host Community Rights in Mining communities across Nigeria at Rockview Hotels, Abuja. The briefing was actually a follow-up meetings on the updates and current development in Mining communities that have been marginalised and deprived of their human rights as well as regular entitlements from the government.
Overview of what Global Rights stands for and what it aims to achieve were discussed briefly during the open remarks by Mrs Abby Baiyewu, the Country Director, Global Rights in Nigeria, she described Global Rights as a human rights organization working in partnership with local activists in Africa, Asia, and Latin America to build grass roots movements that promote and protect the rights of populations marginalized because of gender, ethnicity, race, socio-economic status, gender identity or disability.
“We are unique among organizations in this arena because our model works and builds impact from the broad base of society upwards, teaching and training coalitions, organizations and individuals with a participatory approach that fosters long-term transparency and sustainable change” she said.
She further stated that Global Rights is distinctive in its grass roots approach that strengthens partners to document and expose human rights abuses, conduct community outreach and mobilization, advocate for legal and policy reform, and provide legal and paralegal services.
Various reports on the status of Mining Host communities in Nigeria were looked into during the general discussion by the participants. Panel discussion were also introduced in the course of the briefing. There was intense deliberations on the role of federal government in the Mining and extractive sector and how state governments has been sidelined and strip off the access to manage their resources knowing fully well that citizens of the states are always at the receiving end each time there is neglect and denial of human rights from the federal government.
One of the stakeholder at the briefing, Chief Geologist Seyi Ayodele, Director, State Mineral Resources Department, Kogi State, said every Host community deserves 13% derivatives of its mineral resources, as stipulated by the Extractive industry and Mining Act which is among the exclusive list of the federation. He alluded that Kogi state has been denied of that despite the fact that it has the largest solid mineral deposit in the country.
During the panel discussion, Oladotun Fadeyiye, CODE representative narrated the horible situation of artisinal miners in Bagega Lead site in Zamfara state.
He explained the lead poisoning saga and environmental degradation before the intervention of Follow the Money. Government has provided the machines and it has been installed but if our people do not use them, it would be a total failure and this might lead recontamination, he affirmed.
Oladotun suggested Federal government should focus on people’s centred approach where the people are equipped and empowered to demand for their rights and have a channel of dialogue between them and the governments. Therefore we need strong coordination between agencies of government involved, he explained.
However, it was quite disheartening that most of the key government agencies playing important roles in both environment and extractive sector in the country such NAESREA, EIA, Ministry of Environment etc. were conspicuously absent, in spite of the fact that they had been officially invited for the briefing.