Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Commissioner of Solid Minerals, seeks collaboration with C'River Assembly

 Achiane Adams | February 2020 

In line with the present administration's efforts to diversify the economy through solid minerals, the Cross River State  Commissioner for Solid Minerals Development, Rt. Hon. George O'Ben-Etchi, has expressed his desire to collaborate with the Cross River State House of Assembly Committee on Petroleum, Gas and Solid Minerals Development for the growth of the sector.

Hon. O'Ben-Etchi made this known when he led Management of his Ministry on a courtesy call on the House Committee, at the Assembly Complex in Calabar. 

The Commissioner said such collaboration will give the sector a strong backing to consolidate on the gains of the last four years and reposition it for greater prospects in the future. 

 He maintained that although the sector in the last dispensation of the Governor Ayade-led administration, had achieved a lot such as, securing of licenses to set up the State's Cement and Limestone Factories, the mineral mapping exercise amongst others, the sector is still faced with some challenges which the Ministry must tackle head-on in the second term.

"The sector has a handful of setbacks ranging from solid minerals being in the 'Exclusive list' of the Federal Government, the none domiciliation of the solid minerals bill, none accessibility to the 13 percent derivation funds and the benefits that accrued the  State as a solid minerals producing State, to undefined responsibilities of certain government MDAs, to illegal mining, amongst others." the Commissioner added.  

Welcoming the Commissioner and his team earlier, the Chairman, Cross River State House of Assembly Committee on Petroleum and Solid Minerals, Rt. Hon. Hillary Bisong said he is impressed with the fact that the Commissioner deemed it necessary to align with the Committee, as it shows commitment on the part of the Ministry to work for the good of the sector and the State as a whole.

Rt. Hon. Bisong, who is the Member representing Boki 2 State Constituency in the House of Assembly, revealed that in addition to the many challenges facing the sector, it is disheartening that many Quarries are shutting down and moving their businesses to other states which do not have half of what Cross River has, thereby causing youths to be out of jobs, the government to lose revenue and leave the host communities without a voice, emphasizing that it is time to re-strategize and bring back the vibrancy of mining exploration to the State.

The  Chairman pledged the Committee's support to the Ministry and appealed that such interactions should be regular in other for both parties to be up to date with each other's progress as they need to work together for the sector's revival. 

While giving the vote of thanks on the Ministry's behalf, the Director of Accounts, Mr. Moses Unaji, thanked the Assembly members for lending a listening ear to the Commissioner and his team, keeping themselves abreast with solid minerals matters and promising to take proactive steps to support the growth of the solid minerals sector in the State.