Dele Alake, minister of solid minerals development, has rolled out strategies to ensure maximum security at mining sites across Nigeria.
Alake highlighted insecurity as a major challenge hampering the development of the sector.
In an exclusive interview with BusinessDay, he said plans were ongoing in partnership with the National Security Advisor and the Ministry of Defence to further the process of establishing a new security outfit that will be largely technological.
“That will be the difference from previous security outfits because, in today’s world, you can hardly do anything efficiently without technology. Before, we’ve had personnel and security agents being taken to the bush to fight kinetic warfare, but you have to also look at the non-kinetic areas of security,” he said.
Describing technology as critical, he said: “And we are working on that, bringing artificial intelligence into it so that we can zero in on the flash points, and then be able to direct security to specific areas, rather than roaming the bush for days and at the end of the day the security men get compromised themselves.
“So the outfit is going to be very dynamic, highly mobile, with experienced security experts, not necessarily military or police in the auto head, but people who are fast in the theoretical aspect and the practical aspect of security architecture.”
Noting the importance of data to the development of the sector, the minister said the government, through the ministry, is investing in the generation and certification of relevant geoscientific data to boost investor confidence.
According to him, the availability of data cannot be overemphasised as it drives informed decision-making, especially for investors.
Alake said, “So when we generate, we ensure that the generated data is certified by international certification agencies. That will give confidence to foreign investors. Because when they see your data—maybe gold, lithium, whatever—and quantity, they will believe the data, especially when the data is certified by international agencies.
“And that will make them or encourage them to make informed decisions about their investments. So that’s part of the seven-point agenda that we were creating.”
Speaking on the role of the state governors in regulating mining activities in the states, he insisted that no state government has the constitutional authority to make policy statements on minerals, whether liquid or solid.
Noting that mining is on the exclusive legislative list, the minister said: “But because of societal peculiarities, a lot of them started getting involved and all that. So I made that a little bit clearer: no government can do that; no state can do that.
“However, states can operate like any other operators; states can apply for a license. If they see something in their domain that they are interested in exploiting, let them go through the normal process as an operator and we will look at it. If this is done with merit, we will approve it and license them. So they can operate and pay the necessary royalty or taxes to the federal government.”