KAYODE Fayemi, minister of Solid Minerals, has handed over a Federal Government-owned Mineral Buying Center in Abakaliki to the Ebonyi State Government.
He told the state Executive Council members during a courtesy visit on them on Monday that the centre would help the state curb the activities of illegal miners and help formalise those who are genuinely interested in participating in the mining sector.
Fayemi, who also lauded Governor David Umahi for his achievements in the state within a short space of time, added, “We are starting by releasing the Mineral Buying center that the Federal Government has built to your state, so that you can use that to begin to manage the opportunity available in curbing the activities of illegal miners in the state.
“We are also doing so to help you formalise those who are genuinely interested in participating in the sector without necessarily having the wherewithal to do so by organising them, giving them the opportunity to access finance from our intervention fund and also giving the state the opportunity to realise what belongs to it through the use of Mineral Buying centre.”
The minister, who had earlier visited some solid mineral sites in the state, including the Uburu salt lake in Ohaozara Local Government Area, said the Federal Government was willing to partner Ebonyi State in developing its mineral potential.
He added, “What we are interested in is co-operation and collaboration, not competition with our states. We want this to go beyond lip service. We want diversification to be realised in concrete terms and the way to do that is by partnering your Excellency.”
Responding, Governor Umahi described the appointment of Fayemi as minister of Solid Minerals as a round peg in a round hole. He called on Federal Government to construct the road leading to NIGERCEM in Nkalagu, to assist the state in developing the industry.
“We have over 80km of federal roads we are constructing afresh in this state. The roads are scattered across the three senatorial zones. ‘If we don’t do it, it will be very difficult for our people to talk about agriculture, talk about solid minerals and even social activities.
‘We are asking you sir to help us over the construction of the road leading to NIGERCM.”
— May 10, 2016 @ 18:00 GMT