Economic diversification through mining requires gender and community rights focus

Economic diversification through mining requires gender and community rights focus


Policy Recommendations

Nigeria’s mineral revenue sharing formula needs a revamp, to incentivise states beyond the meagre 13% derivation that applies in the more mature oil and gas sector.

– To co-opt states as effective mineral sector administrators, the federal government should target the multiple legal, administrative, practical and other obstacles preventing states from attracting investment partnerships. This will help grow their mineral rents and broader internally generated revenues.

– Reform targeting the artisanal and small scale mining sector needs to be accelerated, in order to unleash poverty reduction and broad-based (especially women) empowerment using Nigeria’s vast development mineral reserves, including semi-precious stones and ornaments.

– A more gender sensitive approach to mining is needed to eliminate legal and other constraints faced by women, such as sections 55 and 56 of Nigeria’s 2004 Labour Act, which prohibit women from working in mines at certain hours and from undertaking manual labour underground.

– A greater focus on experience-sharing among Nigerian stakeholders – and with African peers – will yield practical insights into securing inclusive benefits from the mining sector. This is essential to transcend Nigeria’s extant revenue focus, and to expand jobs, skills and development finance opportunities at the grassroots where their poverty reduction and social transformation impact is greatest.


The pressure to diversify Nigeria’s economy presents opportunities. Yet, deeper reform in mining is needed to realise the sector’s enormous potential. If there is an African country that requires sustainable mining to drive manufacturing for its large internal market, that country is Nigeria. Getting mining right also holds out the promise of national self-redemption, with success potentially mitigating the legacy of the ‘oil curse’. A widely respected mining sector which supports Nigeria’s industrialisation ambitions could be within grasp. This though calls for new governance approaches and dynamic stakeholder learning on a scale never before seen in Nigeria.

Bold changes can help align Nigeria’s mining with global best practises. These include the fiscal, conflict-management, social inclusiveness, technical linkage and the human and gender rights dimensions of governance in the sector. Even as geological exploration lags, Nigeria’s known reserves – modestly estimated at 47 distinct minerals – could support the creation of 250,000 new jobs. The 7th Sustainability in the Extractive Industries (SITEI) conference took place recently in Abuja. With its theme of ‘Managing Conflict and Security’ the conference highlighted Nigeria’s sustainability challenge which hampers the sector.

Road less travelled

Adorning the walls of informal money-changers throughout Nigeria, an untrained eye may not recognise the value of ornaments created from Nigeria’s semi-precious stones. From upmarket hotels in Abuja and Zamfara, to merchants’ shops in Bayelsa, Lagos and Yola, these semi-precious stones are among the most sought after items by discerning foreign visitors to our shores. Expatriates can usually acquire these ornaments at a fraction of their cost in Asia, Europe and North America. With proper regulation, training and market support, Nigeria’s semi-precious stones, together with dimension stones could provide sustainable livelihood for millions of its citizens. The United Nations Development Programme has been working to increase awareness of the sector’s potential, most notably in its development minerals programme which convened a West Africa regional workshop in Accra in 2016.  

As the Abuja sustainability conference unfolded, major national newspapers reported on multiple mining-related incidents in Ebonyi state. These point to worsening communal conflicts driven by illegal mining activities; alleged police brutality against host communities; intra-community rivalries with factions granting partial ‘consent’ to mine operators; and non-compliance of some licenced miners with state tax regulations. In addressing its extractive challenges, some observers complain that Nigeria copies foreign solutions that are ill-suited to our context. In mining, it seems that the key difficulty resides in our treatment of minerals with their distinctive value chains and high labour absorptiveness in the same way that we treat the more mature oil and gas sector.

Whereas states and local authorities are at the frontline, Nigeria’s 13% derivation formula offers paltry incentive to these grassroots governance actors to help reorganise the sector to drive job creation. Unless we give states an attractive stake, Nigeria’s dream of improved mineral sector governance will remain a pipe-dream. If so, we risk in the longer-term being saddled with stranded assets – mineral and energy resources that are no longer economically viable to extract – because we failed to capitalise on them before the world’s productive systems shift wholesale to renewables.

Changing the ground-rules

Any suggestion that states be given autonomy over mines, with a percentage of mineral revenues being remitted to the federal government, is bound to prove controversial. Yet, successful mining countries with federal constitutions similar to ours, including Canada and Australia, allow states control over their mineral endowments. Such arrangement could help states to aggressively grow their internally generated revenues whilst rebuilding tax and royalty collection systems.

Nigeria under President Buhari has been receiving help from the African Mining Vision (AMV), a pan-African initiative for good governance in the mining sector with seven distinct principles on linkages, environmental protection and others. It was endorsed in 2009 by African Heads of State. Working with members of the African Union (AU) Technical Working Group (TWG) advising the institution on AMV implementation, the AU and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) began consultative missions to Nigeria’s mining ministry in February 2016.

The Fayemi-led mines and steel ministry achieved much in terms of the process revamps that are needed, notably in the endorsement of the mining roadmap by the Federal Executive Council in 2016. Among other measures, Nigeria now offers mining investors a three-year tax holiday and a duty-free importation of equipment. Steps are being taken to establish the Nigerian Mining Commission as regulator in the sector and a ‘strategic partnership’ between the federal and state governments on mining is also on the cards.

Nevertheless, much remains to be done, including striking the right regulatory and revenue-sharing balance between the federal and state governments. We should not pretend that we can impose the same fiscal provisions in the embryonic mining sector as those in the well-established oil and gas industry. Adjusting mineral revenue-sharing may require bold changes to Nigeria’s constitution. Inclusive analysis of benefits, diligent sensitisation in mining communities, and proactive consultations among regulatory, corporate, communal and CSO stakeholders will help.

Also, a more substantive gender focus is needed. This will increase the prospects for pro-women, poverty-reduction strategies in the sector, particularly in artisanal and small scale mining. Beyond recalibrating the state-federal fiscal formula, legislative changes should provide for community mining trusts to forestall local strife. Amending gender-discriminatory clauses in the 2004 Labour Act – such as section 55 which excludes women from working at certain hours and section 56 which prohibits the employment of women for manual labour underground – is also key. We must allow women choice even whilst sensitising them on the hazards of working underground. This applies also to operations such as the sieving of ores. Women are preferred for sieving because of their painstakingness. This though disproportionately exposes them to harmful substances such as lead and mercury.

Recovering lost ground

Momentum has since been lost in the Nigeria-AU-UNECA consultations. Still, Nigeria remains one of the more promising contexts for actualising the AMV’s sustainability principles. Going forward, our policymakers must seek closer alignment with AMV principles. We should couple external learning with deeper introspection of Nigeria’s own experiences. We can leverage for example Nigeria’s successful local content approaches in the oil industry. That should make for richer exchanges with African peers and foster holistic national learning. With our large internal market suited to mineral benefaction and minerals-based industrialisation, we could see several green-field mining projects rapidly emerge.

To maximise potential, Nigeria requires a reformed mining education curriculum covering mineral geology, engineering, monitoring Environmental and Strategic Impact Assessment (ESIA), and information technology to drive the mining cadastre. Industry and regulators must work together to identify skills gaps and design trainings specifically for the sector. Whilst approving concessions, we need beefed-up arrangements to monitor Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). If we fail to protect local rights, we will endanger corporate sustainability and stoke conflicts such as the one in Ebonyi and elsewhere. That surely will put paid to the creation of shared value in Nigeria’s resurgent mines. Click here to download

* Dr. Ola Bello, @drolabello holds MPhil and PhD degrees from Cambridge University and is the Executive Director of Good Governance Africa Nigeria (GGA). Copyright©2018 Vol 4, No 10. GGA Nigeria. All rights reserved. 

Extremisms in Africa – Book launch & Workshop

Extremisms in Africa – Book launch & Workshop

Introductory Remarks: Extremisms in Africa – Book launch and workshop

Excellencies, members of the diplomatic corps, generals, officers and other dignitaries, esteemed guests, ladies and gentlemen, colleagues, friends;

It is my pleasure to welcome you to GGA this afternoon for the launch of our book anthology, Extremisms in Africa. When I joined in 2015, there wasn’t much material in place for this, one of our core programmes. I am therefore delighted to report that, thanks to a concerted team effort, we are here, a few years down the line with Africa’s first locally produced offering on the topic.

Extremism, as defined by Ben-Dor and Pedahzur, refers to “degrees of intensity in commitment to ideologies and the willingness to make sacrifices and remain faithful to that which appears to be worthy of belief”. As such, the term can be employed to describe a range of views, from religion and politics through to sport and recreational pastimes.

We chose to steer away from the popular term “violent extremism”, as propagated in the PVE and CVE (Preventing- and Countering- Violent Extremism) literature for a simple reason. The adoption of an extremist position in itself does some violence, to varying degrees, especially when considered from a dialectical point of view that entertains all available positions rationally before reaching a conclusion. There is, of course, a substantive difference between narratival violence and the weaponry of words, and the direct violence of an event that terminates lives.

In an honest, open attempt to move away from the prevailing Global War on Terror (GWOT) paradigm, which itself is rather extreme, at a spend of $50m/day for the US alone and with limited results, we sought to adopt a different approach and a shift of mindset, which may have scope for future application.

Our introductory anthology seeks to understand the phenomenon of extremism(s) from an informed social sciences and humanities perspective, that is necessarily multi- and trans-disciplinary in nature. We have, therefore, drawn on a diverse set of strengths, embracing journalists, anthropologists, conflict analysts, security sector specialists, academics, researchers and practitioners to produce this timely volume.

I say timely, because of the general state of poor governance globally at present. At best, a questionable “tone from the top” collides with a disturbing grassroots spread in “left and right” extremist practices that encompass ethnicity, nationalism, religion and evolving domains such as cyberspace, the world of virtual reality and AI.

Indulge for me a second, for suggesting that we consider the discipline of ethology as our point of departure for framing this workshop and our debate. Ethology, or the science of animal behaviour, examines in microscopic detail the behavioural activities of various species, and behavioural ecologists aim to understand their adaptiveness or functional relevance. Scientists such as Tinbergen and Lorenz have looked at cooperation, conflict and aggression.

My point is that whatever we observe in the world around us does not happen perhazard. There are multiple reasons informing the behaviour of different humans, at various times and across markedly different contexts. I have attended several meetings recently at which followers of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, and in fact upon all of us, who express concern that in contemporary parlance extremism has become equated predominantly with Islam. Their concerns are neither unreasonable nor unfounded for, by and large, this phenomenon appears to have been interpreted reductionistically to refer to “radical Islam”.

At issue is that all religions and in fact any ideologies have elements that can be interpreted at the extremes and in radical ways. Judaism and Christianity, which started out as persecuted religions, themselves went on to have followers who persecuted others and, some might argue, have proponents who continue to do, along with members of other religions.

The 15th century conquest of the Americas is a case in point, where acts of terror and violence were dressed up as if they were acts of God. Only in 1550, did the Council of Valladolid in 1550 address this and recognise that “all humanity is one”. Various religions manifest evolutionary patterns where outbursts of violence are followed by theological refinement and a greater promotion of peace.

For this reason, our work looks at extremisms, plural. We consider various instances of extremisms comprising ethno-nationalism, such as espoused by so-called “white extremism” in South Africa, for example, although many other contexts spring to mind; and religion, where we engage extreme variants of both Christianity and Islam.

In recognition of the reality of the use of military force when all other means fail, we book-end our work with chapters on counterterrorism and military strategy. In between this, we look at popular culture, aspirations for self-determination, psycho-social support for survivors and especially children, along with analyses of the various groups operating on different parts of the African continent. In the main, these are not African extremisms but ideologies that infiltrate and permeate local contexts and promise some adaptive benefit, often financial or aspirational in nature.

Consider the notion of “endeavouring, striving, taking pain”, which, incidentally, is the etymological origin of the word Jihad, that has to be understood within the sources of Islamic teaching as well as in the lives/interpretation of individuals. When striving for good governance, in the “struggle for existence”, space is created for evil to thrive when governance fails and criminal syndication occurs, preying off – while promising to – desperate individuals and marginalised communities. A benefit of studying “divinity” in England was that all faiths were studied inclusively, under one roof. That contact between people from diverse backgrounds broke down stereotypes and negativity and promoted greater knowledge and awareness, stimulating harmonious co-existence.

We hope to have created a collegial microcosm where, for at least the next few days, we might engage together and dialogue towards creative and sustainable strategies moving forward. The first step perhaps lies in recognising our own pre-existing violence and stepping outside our comfort zones. We trust that the Chatham House Rule will facilitate this (no leaking of identity or affiliation, respecting anonymity and the confidence of the group).

Returning to behaviour, we would like to address, cooperatively, what is a difficult challenge and anticipate future trends to remain ahead of the wave. I would like to thank you all for joining us and encourage your full participation!

Thank you.


Alain Tschudin, Ph.D.

Executive Director, Good Governance Africa

Johannesburg, June 5, 2018