An Expert on the platform of the Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Society (NMGS)has called for a halt to the Sister-State agreement entered into by Cross River State with Shaaan Xi Province of China to undertake a comprehensive and detailed database of all solid minerals deposit in the state.
It was learnt that the Governor, Senator Ben Ayade had announced five days ago that”With the contact of my Commissioner for Solid Mineral and myself, we have an amalgam of intellectuals and highly skilled senior geologists from the Province of Shaan Xi to work with us towards mapping out all our minerals in the 18 local government areas, with no cost to be borne by the state”.
Speaking in an exclusive telephone chat with journalists yesterday, Former President of the Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Society, Prof. Olugbenga Okunlola called on the state government to halt the geo mapping of the state until due legal processes have been followed”
According to him “It is not proper, for a nation to come and carry out the Geological mapping of another nation without following due legal process, stating that as the professional body involved in the registration, monitoring and evaluation of that profession, we think there has been a legal breach that should be looked into for proper monitoring and evaluation”
The Geologist said “In the interest of ensuring due legal procedures for the main time, this process should be halted until due process is done, the legal aspect is looked into and the NMGS are carried along to ensure these people are assessed for monitoring and to even know their qualification.
He said “When state governments do MoU, National interest must be paramount, stating it is very dangerous to throw open your resources and data out to any nationality for security purposes.
Okunlola posited that the law states that “For any mining activities to be carried out in the country, the Mining Cadastre Office (MCO) has to issue licenses and the Nigeria Geological Survey Agency (NGSA) has to be carried along”
He further asserted that “Cross River state is one of the most geologically mapped states in Nigeria with most of the data already domiciled in the NGSA”
“Already the mineral and Geological map of Cross River, has been published and are available. The Mineral inventory of the state is also available in the NGSA. As recent as about 2 months, the data base of our nations project carried out by the NGSA had compiled every mineral resources and occurrence in Cross river state and they have been properly georeferenced (their location and the geology that surrounds them) and this data is also available with the NGSA” he said
“Apart from this we are aware that Unical Consults through the Geological department has done a mineral inventory and Geology of Cross rivers state over the years and that is also domiciled with the government”
“We think what the Cross River State government should have done is to have carried everybody along, the professional society, the legal aspect, the security aspect and even the local development capacity and the value addition.
“If there is any need for value addition, it could have been done fully in collaboration, out of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the local capacity and local regulatory bodies for control, monitoring and evaluation. Even if it is free coming from China, the security implication has to be considered, you don’t just open your resources because they said they would do it free for you, there is no free lunch anywhere” he said
The Geologist maintained that “Many times we undermine our local capacity, whereas over the years it is the local capacity that has even brought us to this point, since the late 70s.so sometimes bringing in foreigners without any form of regulation sometimes does not augur well for the Nigerian economy.