By ABAH SUNDAY, Abuja
The Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) on Thursday launched Revised Guidelines for the Production of of Community Development Agreements in the solid minerals sector.
Delivering the keynote address during the launch, Minister of Solid Minerals Development Dele Alake explained that the revised guidelines is to engage mineral mining companies and their host communities in such a manner that would lead to very peaceful atmosphere around operations, as well as beneficiation to the host community.
“The aim to ensure that host community derives maximum benefit from the exploitation of the minerals in their locality,” he said.
He noted that for the sake of economic survival, the host community which, according to him, encompasses all Nigerians, based on the fact that there is no state in the country that that does not have one mineral or the other, need the exploitation of the God-given mineral resources beneath the surface in their respective localities.
He said over time, most operators refuse to sign the development agreement based on excuses such as we don’t know the genuine representatives, we can’t afford the demands among others, leading to chaos, cessation of operation and economic activities thereat, with the multiplier effect of investments in the value chain jeopardised and compromised, hence the imperative of the revised guidelines.
“And when the guidelines becomes operational, we’re going to ensure enforcement from the host community angle and the operators angle, so I enjoin everybody on both sides to stick very quickly to the guidelines for peaceful and smooth operation,” he noted.
The Minister also hinted that efforts were in top gear to sanitise and ensure maximum transparency in the mining licensing process in response to the plethora of complaints by stakeholders, adding that a new strategy towards attaining that will made public in the coming days.
In a brief welcome address earlier, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr Mary Ogbe, who expressed gratitude the Centre LSD for its collaboration with the ministry that birthed the guidelines, stressed the importance of the document, describing it as a legal document that contains obligations of mining companies to their host communities and vice versa.
Speaking to newsmen at the end, the executive director, ED, African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development, Centre LSD, and host, Monday Osasah, said they saw lacuna that has been in the mining operators and host communities relationship which had stalled development over time through the research they carried out, then approached the ministry on the guidelines, and it was approved.
He said the guidelines which enjoyed inclusive inputs from all relevant stakeholders was tailored towards producing a Community Development Agreement, CDA, that would ‘reflect the needs of the entire host community, not just a few individuals”.
In their respective goodwill messages, stakeholders, including representatives of various organisations in the sector, welcomed the initiative, saying it is a milestone in the quest to improve operators-host community relations in the sector.
The high point was the unveiling of the document, done by the Minister alongside the permanent Secretary and other dignitaries present.