From Agaju Madugba, Katsina
Katsina State Governor, Alhaji Aminu Bello Masari, has urged the Federal Government to desist from issuing what he described as indiscriminate licenses for the exploitation of solid minerals in parts of the country.
“The Federal Government owns the solid minerals but we own the surface land and we have the right to refuse access to the land,” Masari said on Monday when members of the House of Representatives Committee on solid minerals development visited him at the Government House.
The Governor warned that the development may become confrontational if the Federal Government fails to resolve and define the role of states before issuing licenses to prospective investors in solid minerals in states.
Masari said, “the Federal Government has right of the resources beyond ground level but access to the land is the responsibility of state governments.
“We have to give access first before you can exploit the solid minerals and that is why there is a disconnect somewhere because as I sit here, somebody can come with a piece of paper that they have been given license to prospect for solid minerals and even go into production where it is economically viable.
“As a state Governor, I have the right to refuse such persons access to the land.
“The Federal Government owns the mineral resources but we own the land surface. So, there is need to find a common ground between states and the Federal Government.
“We are not against exploration of solid mineral resources in our state. There has to be a role for states in the issuance of licenses to prospective investors in the solid minerals.
“The Federal Government, in some cases, issue licenses in controversial areas of the states. There should be a common ground where all interests will be protected.
“There is need to develop the solid minerals sector, for diversification which brings about more unity as every state becomes a contributor to the Federation Account.
“It is in realisation of the huge opportunities offered by the presence of many solid minerals in Katsina State that we floated a company and we have acquired license to prospect for solid minerals and subject to availability of resources, to also go into production.”
Earlier, Chairman, House Committee on Solid minerals, Dr. Michael Eyong, told Masari that, “Katsina State sits on a foundation of more than 30 solid minerals and that is why the committee is ready to partner with the government in harnessing the potentials of solid minerals deposits in the state.
“The House Committee on solid minerals development decided to engage governors of states with solid minerals to ginger their interest in developing the solid minerals value chain in their respective states, for job creation, to attract foreign direct investment and also increase Internally Generated Revenue.”
He announced the decision of the committee to give Masari an award of “prudent manager of human and material resources, in recognition of your immense contribution to nation building.“