By Ezra Tunani, Abuja
A Professor of Mining Engineering at the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA) has raised alarm over the rate explosives meant for mining, blasting of rocks, demolition of unused buildings and military use find their way to the hands of terrorists who use it to bomb churches, mosques, residential buildings and airplanes to mention a few.
Professor Zacchaeus Opafunso, the first Nigerian Professor of Mining Engineering stated this while delivering the 89th inaugural lecture of the University. Speaking on the topic, “Explosives: For War or Peace”, Opafunso said that the policing structure of Nigerian land and sea borders should be reevaluated and strengthened for better performance in order to check the rate of smuggled explosives into the country.
He urged the Federal government, agencies and offices of the customs, police and other security agencies to pay more attention to matters relating to importation, procurement, transportation, storage and usage of explosive materials at all times to reduce the impact of negative use of such explosives.
He disclosed that Nigeria had a progressive rate of increase in civilian casualties between 2010 and 2015 moving to the fourth position of countries with highest civilian casualties in 2015.
Professor Opafunso said mining is a veritable source of wealth creation and socio economic development and has played significant roles in the existence of the human race, especially in enhancing civilizations as cultural eras have been identified by various minerals such as the stone age, bronze age, iron age, steel age and nuclear age.
He further disclosed that despite the economic potentials embedded in mining the industry also posed great threat to human society by creating explosive induced environmental problems which include serious health issues such as leukemia, cancer and eye diseases, extinction of some animal issues, distortion of the soil landscape, poor agricultural productivity and oil and gas pollution. He classified explosives under military, improvised and commercial explosives, the latter being used lethally by terrorists as weapons of mass destruction and illegally by some mining sites.
Speaking on the contributions of mining to national development, Opafunso said agriculture and mining were the two earliest human endeavors which ranked together as the primary industries of early civilization and till date they still contribute more than 90 percent of the raw materials for industries all over the world.
On the way forward, Opafunso proposed that mine site surveillance services should be introduced and well-funded by the government and that the ministry of mines and steel development should have extension service offices in all states of the federation to complement the work of the federal mine offices.
He called for more operational vehicles and adequate funding for federal mines offices for effective monitoring and recording of all blasting operations and explosive consumption in Nigeria. Opafunso said business owners should recognize hazardous chemicals in their product inventory, report missing or stolen products and report suspicious or unusual purchase to relevant authorities. He also said indigenous illegal miners should be addressed as artisan miners and their papers formalized by ministry of mines, steel and development to avoid quackery in the industry.
In his remarks at the occasion, the Vice Chancellor, Professor Joseph Fuwape represented by the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Academics, Professor Olatunde Arayela described the lecturer as an astute academic who has served the university in various capacities and contributed immensely to research and academic development in his field of specialization.