•••Oyo state Director General of Mineral Development Agency, Mr Abiodun Oni …
Oyo state government has disclosed plans to embark on a state wide verification exercise for miners who have been issued consents to operate in the state in ensuring the people derive maximum benefit from the mining sector.
The Director General of the state minerals development agency, Mr Abiodun Oni who made this known during a consultative meeting with local government chairmen and other stakeholders said the agency would also intensify efforts in prevailing on legitimate mining contractors to fulfil their Community Development Agreement (CDA) with the people.
The DG equally introduced the Pacesetter Mineral Development Company Limited, as a subsidiary of the agency and urged the chairmen and community leaders to rather engage the state owned company in mineral explorations in their locality than engaging other mining contractors who would greedy exploit them whilst leaving their communities under-developed.
In his words, Abiodun Oni said, “We’ve decided at the agency to take the bull by the horn, as we’ve always done, we all known the story of mining sector in our community and in the country as a whole, so we have the programme in phases where we are going to be consulting the stakeholders and the first point of call for us are the local government chairmen and chairpersons where we want them to disseminate informations to our people back home, because they’re the closest to the grassroots, so we are sending them three messages, they should help us tell our people that we have a company called Pacesetter Minerals Resources Company.”
“Pacesetter Minerals Resources Company Limited are nto the business of mining, we’re going to be competing with the miners, we have a company by law and they will be competing with the miners, they will be operating our resources, secondly we need to know and understand what is called Community Development Agreement, this is something that supposed to be a basis of development and harnessing the resources that returns back to the community and this is basis of agreement that need to be between the hosting communities and the mining companies, we’ve been mining for years and there is no serious development within our communities, so we need to have copies of that CDAs so that where they are existing we will help to facilitate the implementation and execution of the agreement and where they’re not existing one has to be agree on.”
“We have the issue with letter of consent and like I said this is the key to our resources control, the federal government in it’s might and wisdom has asked us to partake in mining license, and if we are part of the mining license we should have an understanding of what are the kind of people our Baales and land owners signed their letters of consent to, we want to be part of that process and as a state we need to be able to verify the people that has the original letters of consent, as against people that don’t have the original letters of consent, there are many issues with letter of consent. We’ve had an issue where letter of consent are falsify, we’ve had an issue where letter of consent are wrongly used, and as a state we need to look into it for the betterment of our people.” Oni said.
While seeking the cooperation of relevant stakeholders to assist the state government in aggregating benefits in the mining sector, Mr Oni stressed that the current administration would continue to maximize gains of revenue derivation, community development, youth empowerment, infrastructure development through the sector.
Chairman of the Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON), Hon Sikiru Sanda acknowledged that the move would significantly result in grassroot development and appealed for special consideration in resource distribution to council areas where more more mineral resources were explored.
The commissioner for justice and Attorney General, Abiodun Aikomo explained that the parley was necessary to allow the state government protect the interest of its people and properly coordinate the sector for the overall benefit of the people.
Aikomo further said, “this gathering is about mining generally, there is an agency in charge of mining in Oyo state, mining has been in existence even before the Independent, it is the process of exploiting and exploring the natural resources from the ground and this exploration activities has implications on the environment, it has implications in terms of security, it has implications in terms of well-being and the welfare of the people, so things have not been well coordinated in the past.
“His excellence, the state governor, Engr. Semi Makinde want the people of Oyo state to benefit maximally from the activities of the miners and the mining processes and as well know that there is no law that self implementing, we need the cooperation of the stakeholders, you need to carry the people that is involved along for the proper implementation of it, so todays gathering is to bring together the concerned local government chairmen so they can understand the whole process and buy into it so operation and implementation can be seamless.”
“The state government is not intended to hijacked anything from anybody, the state government is in better position to coordinate things, you can imagine most of the people that signed this Community Development Agreement don’t know what they signed then, they don’t really know the consent of what they signed, so if you asked for copies of the agreement signed they might not even get it. So this is the agency of the government that is set up for mining activities in Oyo state, so what we are saying is let us be able to have a copy of the agreement that you’ve signed, we party to the agreement, we are not taking anything out from you, the law has given you law, authority and powers to enter into such agreement, but let us have view, what is the intention of the CDA, for instance a mining company has entered and signed an agreement to do something for the community for a period of 5 years.”
“Our roles is to see what and what have they been able to do during that period for the community, in most cases those people are helpless because there is no any strong bargaining power that exists between the and the CDA they signed, but if the state is involved they can now say, you’ve signed this agreement with this community why have you refused to fulfill the terms of the agreement.” He said.