Hon Jaafar Yakubu, Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on China-Nigeria relations, has asserted that Chinese companies should not be held accountable for illegal mining activities in Nigeria.
During an exclusive interview with journalists at the National Assembly Complex in Abuja, Hon Jaafar, who represents the Bali, Gassol federal constituency of Taraba State, countered media reports suggesting that Chinese firms were involved in illegal mining. He stressed that these companies strictly adhere to all the mining regulations in Nigeria and actively contribute to the industry’s growth by providing capital, equipment, and essential technology.
The legislator explained that illegal mining operations often require the cooperation of local communities residing near the mining sites who aid and abet these illicit activities. He clarified, “Our investigations show that there is a significant misunderstanding regarding how the mining industry functions in Nigeria. In general, local Nigerians own mining operations, while the Chinese primarily offer equipment, technology, funding, and collaborate with local miners. Many Nigerians mistakenly associate Chinese companies with illegal mining because they are present at the construction sites.”
Hon Jaafar Yakubu also highlighted that numerous Chinese firms are actively engaged in legitimate and lawful mining operations in Nigeria. He disclosed plans for his committee to launch a comprehensive investigation aimed at identifying and addressing illegal mining activities in the country.
Furthermore, he affirmed that his committee would work closely with relevant stakeholders to educate Chinese investors about Nigeria’s mining and business regulations, ensuring compliance with the law. He added, “We will also engage with local communities to encourage them to be more receptive and transparent in their interactions with investors, creating a conducive environment for mining investments. This will lead to job creation, poverty reduction, and a decrease in criminal activities.”
Hon Jaafar cited data from the Senate Committee on Finance, suggesting that Nigeria could potentially generate approximately $3 billion annually from its solid minerals sector. He underscored the positive impact of Chinese investment in the mining sector, stating, “With over 100,000 Nigerians currently employed by these Chinese companies in the mining industry, this translates to 100,000 families lifted out of poverty, which is a remarkable achievement.”
The legislator concluded by expressing his committee’s intentions to engage in further international cooperation. They hope to visit the Chinese parliament and invite their counterparts from China to Nigeria to facilitate discussions on governance and people-to-people cooperation.
Since establishing diplomatic relations in 1971, Nigeria and China have enjoyed mutually beneficial cooperation in trade, investment, foreign policy, education, and technology transfer.