Niger State Governor, Umar Bago, yesterday said that illegal miners and herdsmen use cattle to transport gold from the state to neighbouring West African countries.
To curb the menace, the governor has rolled out plans by his administration to end insecurity that has ravaged the state in recent times.
Speaking at a world press briefing in Abuja, Bago, who disclosed that the state is prepared to host the first sub-national Green Economy Summit, scheduled for October 24 and 25, 2023, said the government plan is to take over all the ungoverned spaces that are occupied by bandits.
He said the Green Economy Summit will be attended by over 500 participants from a broad spectrum of backgrounds to discuss and help proffer solutions to issues of decarbonizing energy systems, circular economy, waste management, green agriculture, food security, ecotourism, and community development.
The Governor also stated that the state is in collaboration with the Federal Government and the military to rid Niger of criminal elements, adding that with about 8.6 million hectares of land with ungoverned space, the state accommodates the highest number of cattle herdsmen in the world
He said the Green Economy Summit is expected to unlock the economic potentials of the state, adding, “Other issues to be discussed include: conserving biodiversity for sustainable development, innovative solutions for water management, smart cities, sustainable urbanisation, women and youth engagement.”
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Bago, who reiterated his administration’s resolve towards sustainable development of valuable natural resources (green assets) through the use of innovative practices in driving economic growth and prosperity, expressed optimism that the forthcoming Summit will help in achieving the feats.
According to him, “Niger state government is hosting the 1st-ever sub-national Green Economy Summit in response to the global challenges of environmental degradation, climate change impacts, insecurity and the growing need for sustainable solutions where we will be unveiling the Niger State Green Economy Blueprint to guide our developmental choice of actions.
“Given the above, the Summit will attract experts and participants from around the world to exchange ideas, best practices, and innovations on green economy initiatives for us to learn and adapt in our context.
“This is in alignment with the country’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions and transition to a low-carbon economy. The Summit will help in meeting Nigeria’s pledge under the Paris Agreement, the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“Subsequently, the summit will also emphasize the role of local communities and their indigenous knowledge systems in sustainable development while empowering them with the necessary knowledge and resources to engage in eco-friendly practices and green initiatives, to achieve the UN SDGs.
“Similarly, through panel discussions, and presentations, the summit shall increase public awareness and knowledge about green technologies, sustainable practices, and environmental issues.
“The theme of this summit shall be “Sustainable Future: Harnessing Green Assets and Innovation for Niger State’s Prosperity”. This encapsulates our central vision and purpose of the Niger State Green Economy initiative.
“It communicates the state’s commitment to the sustainable development of its valuable natural resources (green assets), and the use of innovative practices in driving economic growth and prosperity.
“The target is to unlock the states’ green economy potential to achieve prosperity for all its residents. By adopting this theme, the Niger State Green Economy Summit aims to inspire collaboration, knowledge sharing, and concrete actions that will lead to a greener, more sustainable, and prosperous future for the state and its people.”
He further said, “It is very clear that climate change has been a topic of discussion in the world. This morning I watched with so much pain how Libya has been overtaken by flood unprecedented. As a country and as a state, that is 10 per cent the total size of Nigeria with bodies of water for hydropower dams, it is high time we start to pluck excess water during the rainy season as a national plan so that we can plough them back when we have a drought.”
He said, “As the world is evolving, we cannot be doing otherwise. So, as a state, we are already poised and positioned for the next level. Mr President, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu has given a marching order for food insecurity and Niger State wants to have 10 per cent of the total landmass of Nigeria.
“So, we have to collaborate with our neighbouring states with the Federal Government in the SABC initiative of the AfDB and also with the Livestock Investment Programme of the Government of Nigeria. So these are the benefits.”
Speaking on security, the governor said every arrangement has been made to protect the state from criminal elements including terrorists.
He said, “As a state, we have and still investing in the procurement of heavy-duty equipment for that preparation, we are very ambitious. In the next year, we will prepare and cultivate 250,000 hectares of land and in the next four years, one million hectares of land.
“This is because these miscreants stay at the ungoverned land. We want to take over these ungoverned lands and prepare them for cultivation
“So don’t worry about security. Right now as a state, we have the highest congregation of Fulani herdsmen in the world in Niger State domesticated, so security wouldn’t be an issue.
“The military, Federal and state governments, we are in collaboration and as you know, very well, these are not things we can discuss in public. But I can assure you that Niger State is safe for investment.
“Again we banned mining, the incessant approval from the federal ministry of mining giving people licence to come and mine without the knowledge of the local people has become a menace. You know the degradation of our lands so many illegal activities have to be stopped.
“The herdsmen and miners, these mines are heavy and so they use these cattle to transport to neighbouring countries. So now we have banned that and we have a little peace. We have also negotiated on security.”