Whenever there's a discovery of natural resource in any part of the continent, the joy of economic prosperity soon give way to the threat to peace, the emergence of violence and utter destruction. The narrative can change and it will change.
To say there’s no correlation between natural resources and violence in Africa is to deny the fact that aging is a close call to death. The dangerous trend of events in the northern part of Nigeria and DR Congo. It is worrisome but not surprising. The children we have failed to nurture, educate and mentor will set the house aflame or sell it off. What we left undone is undoing us. The Almajiris of times past: children wandering the streets begging for money and food after attending Quranic classes. They are lacking in skill, abandoned by fathers with multiple wives, mothers who were married early and lacking parental skill. A people who cherish population growth as an advantage to win elections yet whose political elites have gloriously plundered their commonwealth.
Banditry, kidnapping, Boko Haram attacks, herdsmen invasion, ethnic tensions are spurred from individuals who take advantage of the unemployed for their filthy lucre.
Zamfara gold deposit in Northern Nigeria is certainly coming at a wrong time. Although, mining activities had been going on for years, this blessing has since become a curse, just as oil discovery is to its Niger Delta.
The greed of government officials, traditional rulers and miners makes it extremely hard to control such treasonous acts. The Importation of arms to scare away competitors and establish dominance results in unnecessary blood letting. The emergence of war Lords like the Sirrea Leone/Liberia conflict (blood diamonds) is a horrible tale of what could transpire if the government is not proactive.
On many occasions, individuals collaborate with foreign companies for cheap raw materials, smuggling them outside the shores of the continent - The giver/taker theory comes to mind. For instance, how could mining activities of that magnitude be taking place within a geographically crafted entity called Nigeria without the federal government presence? When has mining become a concurrent function within the confines of the constitution that state governments could control?
The role played by security agencies and traditional chiefs must be scrutinized. Although, banditry like many other vices ravaging the northern part of the country requires a holistic framework, which evidently could require decades to succeed if implemented, however, in the meantime, African governments must take over every known natural resource site, and directly engage private sector investment for licensing of mining companies.
Governments must also ensure that earnings from registered companies are not repartriated but accrue to the respective governments, while also earmarking a percentage for the community development in the form of provision of basic infrastructure, scholarships, and empowerment for the youths. By so doing, we can chase the curse of natural resources and redeem the dignity and pride in human lives.
Header Image Credit: The African Exponent file