HomeNewsNigerian Minister Blames Local Elites for Funding Terrorism, Illegal Mining

Nigerian Minister Blames Local Elites for Funding Terrorism, Illegal Mining

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The Nigerian government has taken a surprising turn by accusing powerful nationals of sponsoring terrorism in mineral-rich areas. This new stance contrasts with its earlier position, which primarily blamed foreign illegal miners for such activities. The revelation came from Dele Alake, Minister of Solid Minerals, during his presentation at the House of Representatives Committee on Solid Minerals for the 2024 budget defence in Abuja.

This latest assertion by the minister marks a significant departure from his previous statements. After a Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in October, Alake informed state house correspondents that foreign illegal miners were behind the banditry in Nigeria. He had echoed this sentiment while meeting with a delegation from the Nigeria-China Chamber of Mines, headed by Dr. Olugbenga Ajala.

Yet, during his recent interaction with lawmakers, Alake did an about-face, attributing much of the banditry and terrorism to illegal miners within the country. He emphasized that these individuals are not mere artisanal miners but powerful, influential Nigerians. According to Alake, while foreign miners might be involved, they are merely symptoms of a larger problem driven by domestic actors.

Alake further revealed that most foreign miners engaged in illegal activities lack proper immigration documents, complicating the issue. He stressed that the government is employing various strategies, both kinetic and non-kinetic, to combat this menace.

The minister highlighted the crucial role of artificial intelligence (AI) in boosting security in regions abundant in solid minerals. He said, “With the introduction of artificial intelligence, we can pinpoint flashpoints more accurately, allowing for the efficient and effective deployment of resources to combat security threats.”

Alake disclosed that Nigeria’s solid minerals are estimated to be worth over $700 billion. However, he expressed disappointment with the allocated budget for the ministry in 2024, stating that the proposed amount is insufficient for even a single agenda item, notably exploration.

The chairman of the committee, Gaza Gbefwi, acknowledged the solid minerals sector as Nigeria’s last hope for economic diversification. He emphasized that the funds allocated for 2024 are grossly inadequate, calling on the President to reconsider the budget for this crucial sector.

Meanwhile, a civil society organization in Bauchi State, Arewa Mu Farka Youth Coalition Group, has urged the Federal Government to investigate the alleged involvement of power brokers in banditry and kidnappings, especially in the Northwest. The group’s leader, Haruna Aliyu Ningi, demanded an inquiry into the over N1 trillion spent on fighting insecurity, alleging a lack of substantial action.

According to a report by The Guardian, Ningi expressed concern over the continued rise in insecurity despite significant spending on sophisticated weapons. The group also questioned why known bandit leaders remain at large, calling for a thorough investigation into the mistaken bombings of civilians by the Nigerian Army.

In conclusion, the group emphasized the urgent need for the Nigerian Armed Forces and other security agencies to protect citizens, as mandated by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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