From Charity Nwakaudu, Abuja
The Federal Government has said it is engaging on sensitisation of states governments on the need to synergise to develop the mineral sector for benefit of Nigerians.
The Minister of State Mines and Steel Development, Uchechukwu Sampson Ogah, made this known during a courtesy visit to Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike in Port Harcourt.
Ogah stated that collaboration between the federal and state government would ensure the orderly and efficient exploitation of huge deposits of silica sand, glass sand and clay which occur in Rivers State for construction purposes and glass manufacture. He explained that sensitising mining operators, oil and gas operators as well as mining host communities and other stakeholders would certify mining activities are conducted in a safe, and environmentally friendly manner consistent with the provisions of the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act, 2007.
He disclosed the Federal Government’s desire to partner with Rivers Government in providing the enabling environment and administrative support required to boost sand mining investments in the state; ensuring adequate sensitisation of the people of Rivers State on the constitutional role of the Federal Government, improving communication and information sharing between the ministry and the state government , joint strategic war against illegal sand dredging as well as continuous support to Rivers State Mineral Resources and Environmental Management Committee (MIREMCO) to enable it function properly.
The minister noted that the present level of efficiency of sand dredging activities in Rivers State can be enhanced if the ministry and Rivers State mutually collaborate to support the mining investors in the state by providing the enabling environment for the sand dredging businesses to thrive. He enjoined the state to take advantage of abundant sea salt yet to be exploited as it is a state bordering the Atlantic Ocean, which might also be an interesting area for collaboarative development.
He revealed that the the ministry would be organising a further sensitisation workshop in a matter of weeks with all the 774 Local Government Chairmen to further strengthen and deepen the collaborative synergy in developing the solid minerals sector.
In his remarks, Governor Wike supported the need for the federal and state governments to collaborate to develop the country, saying that it was high time leaders concentrated on good governance to achieve greatness for the country.
Governor Wike, who said emphasis on crude oil has reduced the impact of mineral exploration and exploitation, disclosed that Rivers State was ready and willing to partner with the Federal Government as mineral resources could play a great role in infrastructural development and job creation.
The Rivers governor stated that reviving Ajaokuta Steel Company could create employment for Nigerian youths and financial autonomy for the nation, adding: ‘let us do the right thing for the country to move forward.’
At the stakeholders’ meeting, the minister stated the need for synergy between the federal, state and local governments to work as a team to increase revenue generation. He enjoined them to ensure they register their businesses properly and pay their due royalties to the Federation Account to enable government carry out its obligations to the citizens.
Ogah, observing that sand dregding is the gold of Rivers State, stated that with the level of sand filling and dregding going on in the state, that lots of revenue would be generated if operators do the right thing. He enjoined operators to register with the Miners Association of Nigeria for proper recognition as a miners.
Speaking, the 2nd National Vice President of Miners Association of Nigeria, Kennedy Enebeli, revealed that the major mining activities in Rivers State are sand dredging and quarrying, he however said operators in thes tate are haermorrhaging under the yoke of multiple regulations, controls and taxation by various agencies of all tiers of government and the host communities.
He appealed to the ministry to help find a solution to this challenge, as it requires an urgent resolution for the efforts of the ministry to yield the desired results, and for businesses to continue to thrive.
While inspecting Geoplex Drillteq Limited, an Oil Servicing Company, Dr Ogah expressed happiness at the great success the company has attained and assured of the ministry’s willingness to continue to support Geoplex to create an indelible mark.
In his remarks, the Executive Director, Geoplex Drillteq Limited, Johnson Shorinwa, disclosed the company is the number one indigenous Oil Servicing Company in Nigeria as well as the fastest growing in the Sub-Saharan Africa region.
Johnson appreciated the Federal Government for putting policies in place that has given them the impetus to.drive the Company’s ambitions to tangible manifestations, adding that Nigerian companies under the right leadership can compete favourable with their foreign counterparts.