Picture above: Gov Ortom presenting a gift to Dr Ogah, Minister of Sate for Mines and Steel Development during the courtesy call on the governor at Government House, Makurdi.

By Amos Aar, Makurdi

THE federal government has urged miners in Benue State to be united and operate under one umbrella in order to get its support; the Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Dr Samson Uchechukwu Ogah, gave the advice on Thursday when he held a town hall meeting with stakeholders in the mining sector at the Federal Secretariat Makurdi.

The minister’s advice was a response to complaints by the miners about lack of resources, illegal acquisition of mining licences by some people who do not go through the normal processes to obtain consent from the communities. The minister stressed that the federal government has the capacity to take care of miners if they are united and show competence.

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He disclosed that the Bank of Industry (BoI), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and NEXIM Bank have already made inputs to that effect. He also urged them not to make consent alone without carrying other miners along and they should not promise the host communities what they cannot do so as to avoid problems when the pledges are not fulfilled. “People should be responsible in mining activities so that the government will be responsible in solving their problems,” Dr Ogah said.

Earlier at Government House where he went to on a courtesy call, the minister told Governor Samuel Ortom that he was in the state to intimate the governor about federal government’s road map on its mining activities and to sensitise Benue people on the need to adopt best mining practices.

He commended Governor Ortom for his achievements despite security challenges, saying the normalcy that has returned to Benue has stimulated mining activities in the state. He appealed to the state government to provide security to mining sites and propose a workable synergy between the ministry and the state government to actualise set goals.

Governor Ortom, in his response, expressed the state government’s readiness to support any genuine federal government policy, saying politics was over and it was time for development. He stressed that his administration would support the federal government to ensure the actualisation of its policies, programmes and activities such as the mining exploration for which the Minister was in the state.

Governor Ortom who said he will not hesitate to criticise the federal government constructively when the need arises, however the security agencies sent to Benue State have done well, hence the mining activities going on in the rural areas.

“For us in Benue State, we remain committed and we are fully in support of any positive policy by President the Buhari-led federal government. Politics is over and it is time for development. But I will always criticise constructively when things are not right. We will collaborate with the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel to develop mining activities in Benue state,” Ortom assured.

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