C’RIVER, MMSD STRATEGIZE TO ENHANCE SOLID MINERALS POTENTIALS
By: Achiane Adams,
In line with the Governor Ben Ayade- led administration, in ensuring that the industrialization drive cuts across all sectors of the State development, the Cross River State Government and the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, have set the ball rolling to ensure that solid minerals development is enhanced to serve the economic yearnings of both parties.
The decision was reached when the Governor, Sen.(Prof.) Ben Ayade, received the Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Uchechukwu Sampson Ogah, at the State Executive Chambers, Calabar.
Sen.(Prof.) Ayade said that while it is undisputed that solid minerals is in the exclusive list of the Federal Government, because it owns what is buried on the ground, State Governments should also be given opportunity to be involved in taking certain decisions because the State owns the land.
The Governor expressed concerns at the way the Federal Government, Investors and the Communities run a chain of minerals exploration and exploitation processes without the State’s involvement, saying that when these deals go wrong, it suddenly becomes imperative that the State be involved even when it is not equipped with detailed information.
Making reference to the discordant Community Development Agreement between an Investor and the Osina Community of Yala Local Government Area in the State, of which he intervened, Governor Ayade said the crisis gave rise to exploitation unrest in the Community, insisting that sensitive issues like the CDA should not be contracted without the involvement of the State.
He added that challenges regarding CDAs, poor mining standards, inconsistent mining procedures as enshrined in the Minerals and Mining Acts 2007 and more will linger due to economic shortfalls if certain adjustments are not made as it is time for the Federal Government to get the State involved as a Stakeholder.
He also drew the attention of the Minister of State to the economic importance of the Bakassi Intergrated Deep Sea Port and the Super Highway, to the movement and exportation of these minerals, of which Cross River State is endowed with.
Expressing his regard for the Minister’s visit, Governor Ayade said it shows the Federal Government’s willingness to synergize with Cross River State for the prospecting of solid minerals exploitation in the State.
The Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Uchechukwu Sampson Ogah, said he holds Cross River State which is endowed with 33 minerals, in high esteem because of the seamless cordial relationship between the State’s Ministry of Solid Minerals Development and the Federal Mines Officer, of which he thanked the State Government and appealed that the support should continue.
Dr. Ogah, said the Federal Government’s resolve to diversify the economy through solid minerals and agriculture since crude oil was not meeting the economic needs of the nation, has led the Federal government to lay down policies to guide mining activities and as such anyone not following the guidelines is going against the Federal Government and will be brought to book.
The Minister of State also pointed out that there is only a limit to which States can be involved in matters concerning natural and solid minerals resources because if States with solid mineral deposits agitate for sole custody of these minerals, the oil producing States will follow, leading to uneven distribution of development. That is why the Federal government introduced the one basket approach where wealth is gathered and then redistributed for equal benefits of which the 13% derivation is inclusive.
Dr. Ogah further assured that his 2-day working visit will see him address the Miremco and Osina Community CDA crisis, visit three quarry sites to see the level of mining compliance and have a Town Hall meeting with Mining Operators and Stakeholders.
He thanked Governor Ayade for the warm reception, noting that he looked forward to an accelerating partnership and a future of rewarding solid minerals endeavors between both Governments.
After the courtesy visit, the Governor gave the Minister of State a tour of the Ayade Industrial Park.