Deputy Governor of Cross River State, Prof Ivara Esu, has called on the Federal Government to pay greater attention to the many natural resources in parts of the state.
Esu spoke at a one-day seminar on the National Monitoring Exercise of Royalty Collections and the Activities of Miners in the Solid Mineral Sector, stressing that the seminar was ‘economically important for the State’.
The Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission organized the event in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development and held at the Federal Secretariat, Calabar.
He claimed that the state is underlaid by various mineral resources, including limestone, baryte, gypsum, uranium, granite, barium, diamonds, manganese, emeralds, quartz, etc.
He noted that as a non-oil bearing state if operations and monetary accruals from mining activities are carefully regulated, the state will be smiling after every monthly meeting with the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC).
“This exercise is of utmost importance to the government and people of Cross River, especially because the State does not benefit in any way from the 13 percent derivation of oil revenue. In theory, we have no oil. That is what they say. What baffles me is that every other state surrounding us has oil, and we at the centre that supposedly should have the highest, they say has none,” he said.
Esu said effectively exploiting the mining sector will increase the nation’s internally generated revenue.
State Commissioner for Solid Minerals George Oben-Etchi suggested that for efficient regulation of the solid mineral sector, the federal government should relinquish its exclusive rights to allow states to handle mining activites.
Earlier, the Federal Commissioner, Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Ntufam Eyo Nsa Whiley, said Cross River and Nigeria would continue to lose much money if the over 30 mineral deposits in the state were not properly aggregated.
“We have been sent to talk to our miners on how to utilize the natural resources, proper payment of royalties to government, the importance of corporate social responsibility for host communities, and importantly, how much the environment is safe from pollution, degradation and other hazards.”