By Micheal Onjenwu
Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on China-Nigeria relations, Hon Jaafar Yakubu, says Chinese companies should not be responsible for illegal mining activities in Nigeria.
In an exclusive interview with newsmen at the National Assembly Complex in Abuja, the lawmaker who represents Bali, Gassol federal constituency of Taraba State, said contrary to media reports in some quarters, Chinese companies obey all laws governing mining activities in Nigeria and are instrumental to the growth of the industry through the provision of capital, equipment and technology needed by the sector.
According to the legislator, no company can partake in illegal mining without the cooperation of locals in host communities, who aid and abet the criminal enterprise.
“Our findings indicate that many people misunderstand the workings of the mining industry in Nigeria. Generally speaking, mining owners are local Nigerians, and the Chinese mainly brought equipment, technology, funds and cooperation with the local miners. So many Nigerians think Chinese companies are into illegal mining because they live within the construction sites,” he said.
“We have hundreds of Chinese firms doing legal and legitimate mining in Nigeria. My committee will embark on a thorough investigation to unravel the illegal miners in Nigeria.”
The lawmaker added that his committee will collaborate with relevant stakeholders to sensitize Chinese investors on laws governing mining and business activities in Nigeria to avoid a breach of mining laws.
“We will also sensitize the local communities to be more receptive and sincere to the investors to create the enabling environment for investment in the mining sector. These will create job opportunities and reduce poverty, crime and criminality.
“According to the Senate Committee on Finance, Nigeria could earn about $3bn annually from solid minerals. And as we know over 100,000 Nigerians are currently employed in the mining sector by these Chinese companies.
“100,000 employed Nigerians means 100,000 families lifted out of poverty which is a huge number,” he added.