BANDITS AS LEADERS: AS POLITICIANS LEAD PLUNDERING OF STATE MINERALS

The illegal mining of gold in Osun State has come to the fore again. The law enforcement agents have been helpless in containing the excesses of the illegal miners, many of them foreigners. In millions and billions of Naira, they steal what belongs to the people and get away with it. It has now come to the fore that those who have made it impossible to curb the menace are the political leaders – senators, ministers and representatives, as well as former governors who are always out to oppress the people. They are said to be behind the cartel frustrating security men who would have apprehended the law breakers.

The Director-General of Osun State Security Network Agency, Mr. Amitolu Shittu, expressed his frustrations in an interview with newsmen in Osogbo, the state capital. He said the foreigners and those who mine the mineral resource with impunity are able to do so because they are usually backed by well placed Nigerians who get the law enforcers off the back of the economic saboteurs.

This is not so only in Osun State. Neither does it apply to only the mining of gold. The story is the same in Zamfara, Plateau, Niger, Nasarawa and most states of Nigeria where there are precious solid mineral resources which, unfortunately, the iniquitous federal structure that vests control of all resources in the central government has made impossible for states to harness the huge benefits that would have accrued from the mining. The 1999 Constitution vests control of all mineral resources in the Federal Government. While state governments are unable to perform the most basic functions of governance owing to paucity of fund, revenue that would have accrued from the mineral resources that fund activities of governments in countries like Canada, Australia and South Africa lie in waste or provide yield for predators that have foisted themselves on the society as leaders.

Beyond whining, governors who have been holding the short end of the stick should take action that would ensure that necessary amendments are made to the Constitution, with a view to making Nigeria a truly federal state, not one that is unitary in essence, but federal only in name. One major reason for failure of development policies in the country is the pernicious structure. Resource control should inhere in the federating units that should then pay tax to the Federal Government. That way, the states would be in position to ward off the enemies of state illegally appropriating the common patrimony for self-aggrandizement.

The reported latest development of the same class of bandit leaders colluding with foreigners to pay for gold with arms is even more disturbing. In recent times, insurgency, banditry and war against the state in various other forms have been on the ascendancy, thus heightening the insecurity of lives and properties of the citizens. Reports that small arms are being supplied in exchange for the precious stones is therefore discomfiting. It has raised fears that criminals will not be in short supply of weapons. Law enforcers should come up with new tactics to mop up the arms in circulation and apprehend those involved in the nefarious activity of supplying illicit arms in exchange for our gold.

One major feature of a nation-state is the monopoly of agencies of coercion. It is thus empowered to make and enforce laws, where it fails to do so, it becomes a rogue state. Nigeria is not a failed state. So, as the countdown to the 2023 general elections begins, it is time to visit and make conscious efforts for reorientation of the polity. There can be no progress for as long as the predatory political class holds the country in its vice grip. Perfunctory attention to corruption does violence to the soul and spirit of the Nigerian nation. It is thus necessary to revisit the nature, structure and orientation of law enforcement in the country.

The Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, has a duty to check the excesses of these rapacious politicians. The police should not be cowed by anyone as its loyalty is to the Nigerian State. The Nigerian people deserve to know those behind the nefarious acts, whoever they may be. By so doing, the security of the state would be guaranteed as their collaborators will realise that the national interest must be protected. President Muhammadu Buhari should give marching orders to all the security outfits to swing into action immediately to protect our patrimony. Unless this is done, the future is bleak.

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