The Governor of Zamfara State, Bello Matawalle, has raised the alarm over the proliferation of arms in the state, a development contributing to the insecurity there.
He disclosed that foreigners and illegal miners of mineral resources had a ‘trade by barter’ arrangement whereby the former would supply arms in exchange for Gold.
The illegal miners will in turn act as the supply link to bandits, kidnappers and other criminal elements terrorising the state and beyond.
Matawalle, who met with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja over the new trend, urged the President to take another look at the security situation in Zamfara, especially by assisting to address illegal mining.
At the Monday-night meeting, which was held at the residential wing of the State House, Matawalle presented some gold bars and other prized minerals to Buhari.
Speaking with State House Correspondents as he exited the venue, he recalled how it had been decided that gold would become part of the country’s external reserves after the Central Bank of Nigeria had purchased lots of quantities.
Recall also that in July this year, Buhari had made public the first set of gold processed under the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative, (PAGMI).
At the unveiling, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, had explained the long-term benefits of the PAGMDI.
He had said, “PAGMI will result in the creation of thousands of new mining and formalised jobs, leading to poverty alleviation for many households. Under the scheme, artisanal and small scale gold miners will earn more from higher productivity, better recovery rates through mechanisation of operations, and better access to reliable geological information.”
Speaking on the immediate measures introduced by his administration to disrupt the arms supply chain, Matawalle disclosed that the the government often bought the minerals from the locals while keeping the economy running at the same time.
He spoke of plans by the government to begin full mining of mineral deposits in another two to three months.
The governor added, “It is very important to us as a government, particularly the issue of insecurity, to know the root cause. 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 people, they pay back with arms.
“I did some investigations so the state government will 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 these gold from them with the limited resources we have. We have some many cases of gun-running in Zamfara state. Mr President is very happy with the system we have initiated and he said whatever support that we need, 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.”
He gave an example of how this week, a large deposit of gold was discovered in the state, “where the locals are trooping in thousand to do illegal mining.”
Matawalle said, “So I came to seek his advice on how best we are going to tackle the issue of illegal mining, we discussed and he gave me all the support and in a few days, people of Zamfara will see a lot of changes especially in mining sector.”
Asked his opinion on the calls for the sacking of the service chiefs as one of the solutions to insecurity in Nigeria, Matawalle dismissed the idea.
Rather, he said the service chiefs should be supported to do their work.
He argued that new service chiefs would still come to face the same challenges and might not do much without support.