Gov. Bello Matawalle of Zamfara has again alerted the nation on the danger posed by the activities of illegal miners in the state.
Matawalle, who raised the alarm after a closed door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja on Tuesday, said the activities of the illegal miners had contributed to the security challenges facing the state.
The governor disclosed that he briefed the president on the issue of illegal mining and security developments in the state.
He said: “I came to brief him (President Buhari) on so many issues that have become source of worry in my state, particularly the issue of illegal mining that is taking place everyday.
“Three days ago, we discovered large deposit of gold in our state where the locals are trooping in thousands to do illegal mining.
”So, I came to seek his advice on how best we can tackle the issue of illegal mining.
”He gave me all the support and in a few days, people of Zamfara will see a lot of changes especially in mining sector.”
Matawalle, therefore, stressed the need to reorganise and strengthen local miners with a view to boosting their source of livelihoods.
”We want to identify them (Local Miners) and make them like a cooperative society so that they can be benefiting from mining.
“The President understood our plight and we have the issue of Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative (PAGMI). It is already ongoing and they have done it in some states.
Zamfara State is going to benefit from this PAGMI programme very soon.
”When I go back, we will set up a committee on PAGMI so that they can go round and the government and CBN (Central Bank of Nigeria) will be buying from us directly, it is better they are selling it very cheap in the mining areas, the federal government, CBN and state can come in and be buying from this small scale miners.”
He said his discussion with the President was very important to the state especially the issue of insecurity as they used the opportunity to know its root cause.
According to him, Zamfara State is blessed with many mineral resources and some people outside the country come in to buy gold and other precious stones and sometimes instead of paying the people, they pay back with arms
“I did some investigations, and the state government has decided to be buying some of these minerals so that we can block that chain.
“So now, the state government is engaging the miners, we will be buying some of this gold from them with the limited resources we have.
“We have so many cases of gun running in Zamfara State. The President is very happy with the system we have initiated and he said whatever support the state government needs, the federal government is ready to assist us.
“In fact, he has given directive to the minister of solid minerals to work with the state government to make Nigeria a great country in terms of solid minerals, diversify from oil to solid mineral resources.”
On the efforts to make Zamfara the mining hub in the country, the governor revealed that the state had embarked on building of gold refinery.
”We now have gold refinery in the state, which is being built in Baka Lori Dam.
”We also have another equipment that is coming, we want to make Zamfara a model in terms of solid minerals and I assure the people of the state that within two to three months, we will go into full scale mining.”
On security challenges facing some parts of the country, Matawalle frowned at those calling for the removal of the Service Chiefs.
He said: “As you have been hearing before, now the narration has changed, you won’t be hearing of mass killings in the state, because the security are doing their best, I equally advised the president that the call for the sack of the service chiefs is not the solution.
“Let us support the security and we as the governors we have a big role to play.
”We just have to support the security agencies no matter what. If the governors are not serious they can’t be able to achieve what they want.
”I advised the President that all those calling for the sack of the security chiefs should rather think of the best way to support them to perform better instead of sacking them.
“Even if you sack them, you are bringing another ones, so let us use the one that we have, we will support them as a government, my state now is at peace and everybody is aware.
“We have more than 3000 policemen going round the mining sites in order to protect the mining sites. We have the security. It’s just for us as leaders to support them.
”I believe we will see a lot of changes in terms of security in this country.” (NAN)