Editorial

Ibadan Explosion: Govt must address regulatory measures beyond mere probe

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A recent explosion which occurred in Ibadan, Oyo State Capital,  as a result of explosions in stores by illegal miners had raised noise and wide reactions. No fewer than five persons reportedly died, 77 injured and 58 buildings damaged by the explosion.

The demand for sanctions and investigations were part of the calls that trailed the incident. In reaction, Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr Dele Alake, stated that the Federal Government is awaiting the outcome of the forensic investigation into the Ibadan explosion, which occurred on Jan.16, to determine its next action.

Alake had said that the investigation would help in revealing the remote cause of the explosion, and guide the Federal Government on its next line of action.

“The Federal Government is now waiting for the outcome of forensic investigations that will determine the real cause of the blast, the explosives type that triggered it and the circumstances leading to the unfortunate incident that led to loss of lives and property,” the Minister had said in a statement issued by his Special Assistant on Media, Segun Tomori.

The minister had announced on Jan. 17, that he had directed Mine Inspectorate Officers on the site of the explosion to collaborate with Oyo State Government and join ongoing investigations to find out its remote causes.

“We have ordered a detailed investigation and our officers will work and collaborate with the Oyo State to know the actual cause. If the explosion was caused by mining explosive devices as earlier reported, the ministry will double efforts to tighten the noose around those acquiring explosives and storing them illegally,” he had said.

He had assured Nigerians of government‘s determination to take appropriate actions regarding the situation, hence its resolve to await the outcome before making a definite pronouncement. Also, according to him, the investigation was aimed at preventing recurrence, adding that it would help in bringing the culprits to book.

President Bola Tinubu had, on Jan.17, set up an inter-ministerial committee on  insecurity hampering the growth of Nigeria’s natural resources. The committee was given a term of reference  to deliberate on modalities in producing a blueprint to secure Nigeria‘s natural resources.

However, the Oyo State Government had stated that operators of the illegal mining and gemstone markets discovered in Ibadan claimed to have approvals from the Federal Government. Special Adviser to Oyo State Governor’s on Security, Fatai Owoseni, had in an interview with Arise Television noted that the security agencies and the government could not know of all the happenings in the State if the citizens within the State did not provide credible information to the agencies.

“For the past two years, the Oyo State governor has been engaging the Federal Government with regards to mining. We’ve discovered that there is an illegal mining market, a gemstone market in Ibadan around Ojoo and populated by foreigners.

“And when you go there that you want to do any operation, either as police or state apparatus, they will show you approval which they have gotten from the Federal Government,” he had said.

Owoseni had said that there is a lot of decadence in mining industry from those who are supposed to be in charge of monitoring miners by conducting checks. He had said, “The conditions are that you must have a magazine, that’s like a storage where you should keep these things,” going on to say that “along the line of maybe lackadaisical attitude, the fellows that will be asked to escort the buyers, the users, they may not do the right thing.”

“Some of the people that apply for those things, the address they indicate is not the address where they’ve taken the things to. Rather than taking them to the magazines or the storage close to the area where they will use it, they will divert these things,” he had added.

Nigeria houses a depth of solid minerals. The depth of mineral resources have been said to have the capacity to provide Nigeria with a promising sector with potentials to significantly boost the nation’s economy. However, the deficiencies of the sector have been linked to the pervasive disorder that reigns in the sector.  

Mining activities in the Country have been known to be entangled with illegal operations. The regulatory mechanisms of the government over time seem to be deficient, and the weakness of policies have left the sector underdeveloped to profit the nation. Hence, rather than yielding accruals to the nation’s purse for national development, the illegal activities of the sector have rather left a system of enriching a few dubious individuals to the detriment of the masses. The recent explosion is a reflection of this defect.  

Illegal mining is known to have left devastating impacts on Nigerians in various communities where the activities have been pervasive.

The need for the government to rise to the necessity of sound regulations to set the sector in order remains important. It is therefore sacrosanct that the reaction of the government to the recent explosion in Ibadan should not end at mere probing into the cause of the explosion, but rather a broader outlook to creating structures to set the sector in order.

This is essential to position the sector rightly for national development against the enrichment of a few opportunists who have been linked to driving illegal cartels against the good of the greatest number. 

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