Obaseki urges increased partnership, devolution of control to maximize potential of mining industry
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Obaseki urges increased partnership, devolution of control to maximize potential of mining industry

The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has advocated for the devolution of the control of mining activities to state governments so as to maximise the sector’s potential and make it an alternative source of revenue generation for the country.

Obaseki made the call when he received the Minister of State for Mines and Steel, Uchechukwu Sampson Ogah, who was on a courtesy visit at the Government House, Benin City.

The Minister is on a three-day visit to Edo State to solicit the cooperation of stakeholders in the mining industry in the quest of the Federal Government to harness the potential of the industry and make it a thriving venture.

The governor, who expressed concerns over the negative environmental impact of illegal mining activities across the country, urged the Federal Government to collaborate with states to stamp out illegal mining.

Obaseki noted, "The security implication of illegal mining can't be over-emphasized as it is huge and if allowed to thrive, will be disastrous. In so many parts of the world, such is used to fund insurrection. We don't want that to happen here where we would have some persons more powerful than the state, having their own private army.

"We must work closely to stamp out illegal mining in the state. Once we legalize the operations of mining activities and everybody from the local governments to the state understands the enforcement, nobody will go into mining sites to carry out any activities without proper authorization and proper policing.”

The governor noted that the effort of the federal government to harness the potential of the sector is timely, considering the need for diversification and the dire environmental challenges trailing crude oil exploration.

He further stated, “Our dependence on oil and gas has led us to where we are today as 20 to 25 percent of what we produce (crude oil) doesn't get to the market and we have seen the environmental disaster created. We are concerned about our future and need to look outside crude to generate revenue.

"We are naturally a diversified state and need to implement that diversification rather than relying on crude oil. As a state, we have made up our minds to diversify. The process of diversification has commenced as we are looking at areas where human capacity can be utilized. We are focusing on technology, education, the health of the people, agriculture, and policies that drive growth across the spectrum of the economy of the state.”

Harping on the need to allow states to control mining activities, Obaseki added, “We need sub-laws, and derive our own state laws from the national laws to give us enough strength to enforce some of these policies as this will check illegal mining in the State and the Country.

"The centre that has the control on mining activities doesn't have the ability to enforce that control and people are just doing what they like and because of that weak regulation, multiple environmental problems are created.”

"For us to get mining activities right, the federal government must cooperate and coordinate with states very closely to improve revenue for both the state and federal government. I call on the federal government to enforce the mining laws to ensure sanity in the sector. We are committed to partnering with the federal government to jointly coordinate and regulate the sector,” he said.

On his part, Sampson Ogah noted, “There is the need for a synergy between the federal government and community heads as well as local council authorities to stamp out illegal mining while giving smallholders the opportunity to earn more.

“The president has graciously approved 13 percent derivation for all the minerals that come from solid minerals to the state in addition to what is gotten from the federation account.”


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