By; BUHARI BUKAR BELLO, Jos
Governor Simon Bako Lalong of Plateau State has made a case for the payment of the 13 per cent derivation to the Solid Minerals Producing States in the country.
This, the Governor added, would address the imbalance and put them at par with Oil Producing States enjoying the 13 per cent derivation because mineral resources were used to develop the country before the discovery of oil in Nigeria.
He made the appeal when the Minister of State, Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Uchechukwu Ogah paid him a courtesy visit at the Government House, Little Rayfield, Jos last Thursday.
The Governor who was represented by his deputy, Prof. Sonni Gwanle Tyoden, described the visit as an opportunity for the Minister to come to terms with the reality on ground and for the state to table before him some issues affecting mining and environment in the state.
According to Lalong, Plateau State was supposed to be more strategic to the Ministry, being the frist in terms of mining exploration.
The Governor described as quite worrisome the state of mining ponds, scattered in some parts of the state and its danger, both to human and animals and appealed to the Federal Government to expedite action on the issuance of license to the state for the exploration and exploitation process through the Plateau Mineral Development Company.
He maintained that, over the years, mining activities have been going on in the state without any benefit given to the state in terms of the 13 percent derivation, noting that one of the issues that has been with the Ministry was that of reclamation of mining ponds, stressing that if funds were made available, this could help to reclaim and put the land to better use
Lalong however, lamented that the state has been shortchanged over the years as the 13 percent derivation has not been given to the state and stressed the need to closely monitor the foreign partners because they have been getting away with everything, while the little given to the Federal Government in terms of royalty always ends there.
He also called for a process to be put in place to monitor the activities of artisan mining groups and channel them appropriately within the context of government plans and intention for mineral development
Earlier, the Minister of State, Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Uchechukwu Ogah had explained that they were on a familiarization visit of the two major parastals in the state, which include the National Metallurgical Development Centre and the Institute of Mining and Geo Science.
Dr. Ogah stressed that the importance of establishing the two institutions in the state was based on the efficacy of mining which began way back in the state.The Minister stated that the two institutions were key to the development of the mineral chain in the country.
He disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari has given approval for the payment of 13 percent derivation to the Solid Mineral Producing States, adding that Mines and Steel was key Ministry for the diversification of the economy, which could create more jobs and the upliftment of over a hundred million Nigerians out of poverty.
He further stated that the Federal Government was committed to building a robust relationship with the state government as well as the local government areas so as to track all minerals and due royalties paid which would enable the state get their 13 percent derivation.
The Minister described Plateau State as one of the producers of solid minerals which when harnessed would go a long way in the development of the state.