By: Achiane Adams, CRS-MOI Officer reporting from Ministry Solid Minerals Development

Based on the Federal Government's diversification policy to put solid minerals on the front burner as one of strategies to boost national economy, the Ministry of Solid Minerals Development  and the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, have agreed to synergize in the development of the solid minerals sector in Cross River  State.

This was revealed when the Commissioner for Solid Minerals Development, Rt. Hon. George O'Ben-Etchi, led a team from his Ministry to pay a courtesy call on the Federal Mines Officer in the State, Engr. Mayowa Omosebi, in his office at the Federal Secretariat Complex, Calabar.

Hon. O'Ben-Etchi, said the synergy between both Ministries is paramount as it not only facilitates communication between the State and Federal Governments but defines boundaries thereby leading to jurisdictional responsibilities and respect and ensure exploration and exploitation activities are in line with International best practices.

Bringing to light some of the challenges facing the sector at the State level,including fraudulent Community Development Agreement (CDA) documentation, delay in the availability of blasting materials,  undetailed Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) reports and more, the Commissioner appealed that rigidity surrounding the issue of Exclusive listings, be looked into.

The Commissioner acknowledged that although the law states that solid minerals is in the Federal Government's exclusive list, consideration should be given to the immediate land owners of these mineral deposits because they get to experience first-hand, the issues that arose from minerals exploitation.

Informing the Federal Mines Officer of the progress made by the Ministry, Hon. O'Ben-Etchi, said that apart from the Mineral Mapping Exercise of which the Federal Ministry was greatly involved in,  formalities are on-going to set up a functional mineral buying centre in Ogoja Local Government Area, and that the FMO is invited to tour the proposed site.

Applauding the Commissioner and his team, for the visit, the Federal Mines Officer, Cross River State, Engr. Mayowa Omosebi, gave the assurances of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development's readiness to partner for the growth and sustainability of the sector.

Engr. Omosebi told the Commissioner that the issues raised would be looked into but that whenever there is a challenge, the Commissioner should route all letters through the Federal Mines Office, to the Federal Ministry for prompt attention.

He said he would make the tour to Ogoja and make recommendations to Abuja concerning the Mineral Buying Centre.

Informing the Commissioner about the upcoming Stakeholders meeting;adding that he would like  the State to look into the issue of multiple taxation.

In the vote of thanks on the Ministry's behalf, the Director of Accounts, Mr. Moses Unaji, said it is reliving to know that both establishments are on the same page to pave the way forward, thereby correcting past misconstrued ideas that there were overlapping roles in-between the two government entities.     

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