By Douglas Okoro
Ezeogo Oyibe, the Traditional Ruler of Ameka autonomous community in Ezza South Local Government Area of Ebonyi has canvassed an urgent review of the country’s laws to allow states play more prominent roles in mining.
Oyibe made the call at the inaugural meeting of the Federation of Mining Host Communities (FMHC), Ebonyi chapter, on Tuesday in Abakaliki.
He explained that, granting states the right to control revenue accruing from mining activities would speed up development and stem youth restiveness often witnessed in mining communities.
Oyibe further stated that more revenue would come into the coffers of state governments with mineral resources that would help to develop other sectors of the economy and create jobs for the youths.
”13 per cent derivation paid to states is not enough to meet their developmental needs and when states have direct control over solid minerals resources in their areas, they will have more money to meet their needs.
“Direct control of solid minerals revenues will create more wealth for the states which will in turn create more job opportunities for the youths and stem the incessant youth restiveness often witnessed in mining host communities.
“The effect of mining activities are felt more by the host communities and every effort must be made to ensure proper compensation through payments of commensurate royalties and other entitlements to the people,” Oyibe said.
The traditional ruler said that Federal Government should urgently trigger a process that would lead to removal of mining sector from the exclusive list and put it in the residual list.
He added that the existing practice which conferred the Federal Government sole right to legislate, regulate and appropriate revenue generated from the mining sector was no longer in tandem with existing economic realities.
Speaking earlier, Dr Kelechi Okezie, convener of the meeting said that the FMHC is an umbrella body bringing together communities in the country where mining extractives took place.
He said that the federation has its branches in all states of the country where mining activities were done saying that Ebonyi was richly endowed with solid minerals deposits.
Okezie, Executive Director, Neighbourhood Environment Watch Foundation (NEWF) said that the federation was leveraging the support of Global Rights, an international Non Governmental Organisation working to protect rights of mining host communities.
He said the federation would ensure that, the right of host communities was protected and respected by both miners and government adding that communities should also adhere to memorandum of understanding reached with mining companies in their areas.
“We anticipate that we will have advocacy visits to the mining host communities to understand their challenges and we shall be their voices,” Okezie said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the meeting was attended by traditional rulers from mining host communities; artisanal miners, members of some civil society organisations, environmental rights activists among others. (NAN)