By Ekemini Simon
Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), based in the Niger Delta have stressed the need for a review of the laws governing the mining sector to be in line with international best practice.
The CSOs observed that laws and policies that regulate the mining sector are almost archaic thus leave huge gaps for corruption to thrive and with little benefits to host communities where these extractive operations take place.
This position was made known in a communiqué issued at the end of a one-Day workshop on the cost of corruption on benefit transfer for artisanal miners held in Port Harcourt recently.
The event which was organized by BudgIT, with support from Oxfam Nigeria, had participants drawn from the Civil Society Organisations, anti-corruption agencies and media organisations with the objective to build citizen-led movements for change in Oil and Gas and the Mining Sector, especially within the Niger Delta region.
The workshop spotlighted two main issues – “The History of Corruption in the Niger Delta” and “The Opportunity Cost for Corruption and Strategies of Combating it”. Participants were enlightened on how corruption affects artisanal miners in the Niger Delta region and strategic action plans to combat it.
According to the recommendations contained in the communiqué, there is need for organisations like BudgIT and other Civil Society Organisations to review the laws of the mining sector and recommend to authorities strategies based on the latest standard of practice.
While observing that the issue against corruption in Nigeria has been marred by negligence on the part of law enforcement agencies, CSOs harped on the need for anti-corruption agencies to be alive to their responsibility by investigating more cases of economic crimes and corrupt political officeholders who feed fat on resources generated through extractive operations while impacted communities suffer.
It was recommended that there is need to name and shame the officials involved in corruption thus serve as deterrent.
Civil Society Organisations equally resolved not to leave the fight against corruption in the hands of anti-graft agencies but to be actively involved in the fight against corrupt practices.
They recommended the need for lawful enforcement of fines and sanctions to protect the laws and policies in the mining sector from being violated.
The CSOs resolved to drive a positive public response to the clarion call for zero tolerance for corruption by the Economic and Finance Crimes Commission (EFCC) through awareness building and sustainable struggle resistances against corruption.
Part of the recommendations in the communiqué reads ” There should be a regulated tenure of the Niger Delta Development Commission leadership. Citizens should be encouraged to shun corruption and demand accountability from the relevant authorities.
” The Civil Society Organisation should maximise the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act. In the case of denial, it can challenge the lack of transparency and disclosure of information before a competent court of law.
” The purchasing power of the citizens should be improved. There should be adequate sensitisation for citizens through humanising stories, facts and strategies concerning corruption. There is need for the establishment or restructuring of independent agencies responsible for regulating and investigating the accounts of the Presidency and contracts and sub-contracts. Media organisations should equally embrace a positive style of news reporting especially on localisation of the beneficial ownership register.”