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    Solid minerals: Oyo going for gold without baying for blood

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    Governor Seyi Makinde’s comparative advantage is his brainpower. His ability to think through complex issues and come up with unconventional albeit unimpeachable results is mindboggling. He dissects issues with the contemplation of a philosopher, the equanimity of a neurosurgeon, the dexterity of a scientist, the precision of an engineer, the prescience of an entrepreneur and the altruism of a leader. The application of this in his business transformed it into a multinational organisation within a decade. Introducing same to governance made him a trendsetter in less than a year as a state governor. The well-told story of how Governor Makinde’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis in Oyo State became the national standard still remains music to the ears and balm to the soul.

    Following in this tradition, Governor Makinde on October 24, 2023, signed two Executive Orders; one was on the creation of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism following the excising of same from the Ministry of Information, while the other was to emplace a structure for the solid mineral sector with a view to taking care of the interests of all stakeholders, especially the host communities and the environment. The two Executive Orders were hinged on the Governor’s determination to leverage both tourism and solid mineral sectors to widen the state’s economy in his second term in office. In his first term, Governor Makinde had grown the economy through the development of infrastructure and agribusiness.

    Oyo State is endowed with many solid minerals such as lithium, gold, marble, gemstones, iron ore, tantalite, kaolin and talc. With the large deposits of these minerals as well as their high quality, the state stands a chance of grossing a tidy sum annually from them. According to a report by a mining and exploration company, Oyo State has what is considered to be Nigeria’s most significant lithium pegmatite occurrence. To underscore the growing profile of the state in the solid mineral sector, the Federal Government in May this year, established the country’s first gemstone market in Ibadan to serve as a platform for buyers and sellers to meet, negotiate prices and exchange information about quality, origin and processing of gemstones. So, the stage is set for a revenue haul by the state from the solid mineral sector. Through earnings from solid minerals, Oyo State is poised for an era of greater prosperity, progress and abundance.

    But that is on the one hand. The flipside is that the twin problem of criminality and environmental degradation usually boards the same bus with mineral exploitation. Solid minerals attract illicit miners just as sugar draws bees. Illegal mining births mineral trafficking, trafficking leads to economic crimes, organised crimes, banditry and eventually environmental degradation. So, solid mineral exploitation can breed bloodletting, agony and poverty. The examples are too numerous; from the Niger Delta region of Nigeria where crude oil exploration has become a curse rather than a blessing; to Zamfara State where lead and gold mining has left the people with sorrow and poverty; to Guinea where solid mineral exploitation has pauperised the people; to Liberia, where struggle for control over solid minerals resulted in a civil war. More often than not, the recompense for a mineral deposit host community is grief, grief and more grief. But that is where leadership is lacking.

    According to Murphy’s Law, whatever can go wrong will go wrong. The only way to prevent anything from going wrong is to take charge of the process. That is what great leaders do. They know that life is governed by the principle of cause and effect. So, they take charge of the cause to determine the effect. Those who take charge of the cause determine the course of event and determine the effect. Therefore, they take their destiny in their hands; they do not subject themselves to the mercies of situations and circumstances. By being proactive, they protect themselves from harmful effects.

    This is what Governor Seyi Makinde has done with the Executive Order on solid minerals. The Executive order has five major components; protection of the host communities from exploitation, protection of the environment from degradation, protection of residents from insecurity, collection of state-based levies and taxes and ensuring compliance of all stakeholders with the Executive Order.

    With the Executive Order now in force, all agreements reached between mineral deposit host communities and mining companies must be submitted to the state’s Mineral Deposit Agency (MDA) for transmission to the Ministry of Justice for vetting before signing by the relevant heads or representatives of the community. If the Ministry is satisfied with the draft agreements, the MDA will issue a letter of advice to the relevant community. In addition, all mining companies and the host communities must submit all previously signed draft agreements to the Ministry of Justice through the MDA for documentation. The import of this is that no agreement between any community and a mining company is binding without the seal of the state. With this in place, host communities are guaranteed of a good deal from any mining companies. Now, host communities are protected from exploitation by mining companies that may want to capitalise on a few people’s avarice to subject a whole community to penury and bondage.

    The Executive Order similarly states that any holder of mineral title in Oyo State must conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) before the commencement of any mining exploration or activity to assess the impact of its activities on the environment, while all holders of mineral titles already carrying out mining activities in the state must immediately conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment. It also states that all EIA carried out by holders of mineral titles shall be vetted and approved by the MDA. In addition, all holders of mineral titles are under obligation to carry out restoration and reparation of the land and environment as detailed in their Environmental Impact Assessment reports. The essence of this is to protect the environment from degradation. With this Executive Order any mining company knows that it cannot abandon any mining site without restoring and rehabilitating it.

    Going forward, the Executive Order also compels all holders of mineral titles operating in Oyo State to undergo checks by the MDA in collaboration with relevant security agencies in the state to verify their legal status, citizenship and background before settlement in the communities to ensure peace and security in the communities. In addition, every employee of a mining company must be duly registered by the MDA and security agencies. This enables the security agencies to keep a tab on everyone working on a mining site and protect the host communities from the incidence of “unknown gunmen” or bandits.

    The MDA and the Oyo State Board of Internal Revenue are to ensure the collection of all relevant state-based taxes, levies, fees, charges, etc related to all mining entities doing business in the state, while the Ministry of Justice, Mineral Development Agency, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, Oyo State Board of Internal Revenue, Local Government Councils, traditional institutions, security agencies are mandated to ensure compliance with the Executive Order and initiate investigation and prosecution of any defaulter in accordance with the Law. So, while ensuring that the state gets its due from mining activities by putting measures in place to see that appropriate taxes and levies are paid into the coffers of the state, the government has also instituted a structure to ensure compliance and guard against anyone gaming the system.

    With this Executive Order, Governor Seyi Makinde has achieved two major things. One, he has set the stage for Oyo State to profit from its natural endowments without throwing the people under the bus or putting the environment in harm’s way. Now, the state can look forward to earning good money from its natural endowments without the blood of the citizens being spilled, a community being sacked by criminals or the environment being degraded. Governor Makinde has demonstrated that he cares about the people he leads and that the wellbeing of the citizens forms the fulcrum of his administration. He has shown that solid mineral exploration can be done without people exploitation. He has shown that by emplacing the right structures and systems, the business of solid mineral extraction can be done without bloodletting, armed conflict, brigandage or banditry.

    The second thing is that Governor Makinde has also given the nation a template on how to manage natural resources for the benefit of all stakeholders without the people being ripped off or the environment being ripped apart. As it was during the COVID-19 era when Governor Makinde set the national standard, he has set another national standard in natural resources management.

    In any society, leadership makes the difference between life and death, safety and peril, growth and decline, joy and grief, freedom and bondage as well as prosperity and penury. The difference is in the ability to think differently.

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    Governor’s wife showcases Kwara’s tourism wealth

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    The wife of Kwara Governor, Olufolake Abdulrasaq, on Thursday, urged local and international tourists to explore the tourism potential in the state.

    Mrs Abdulrazaq made the call in Ilorin at the ongoing annual general meeting (AGM) and conference of the National Association of Nigeria Tour Operators (NATOP).

    The AGM has its theme as “Tourism as Catalyst for Progress, Peace and Partnership”.

    “Kwara, with its vantage in the North-central region, is endowed with immense and captivating tourist destinations, widely referred to as ‘a wonder in the wilderness’.

    “The Owu Falls is the highest and most spectacular natural waterfall in West Africa.

    “Founded in 1945 and widely referenced as the mother of all museums in Nigeria, the Esie Museum is located in Irepodun Local Government Area of Kwara State.

    “We have Imole Boja Rock Shelter; we also have the Sobi Hills, the University of Ilorin Zoological Garden, the Dada Pottery, and the Aso-oke weaving centres, among other very interesting sites.

    “In celebrating our culture and traditions, we equally have the annual Ilorin Durbar, the Gani Festival, the Shao Mass Wedding and the Patigi Boat Regatta, to mention a few,” she said.

    Mrs Abdulrazaq, who commended the tour operators for bringing their annual conference to the state, urged them to explore the spots mentioned and further promote the economic potential of the state.

    She said Kwara’s rich historical background, wonders of nature and exquisite cultural events are sights to behold.

    She said Governor AbdulRahman Abdulrasaq was leaving no stone unturned to ensure that opportunities in the tourism sector in the state were maximised.

    According to her, this is evident in the government’s engagements in partnerships, evolving investment-friendly policies and putting in place infrastructure to drive all sectors of the state’s economy.

    “In complementing this drive of government, my office and the Ajike People Support Centre are actively involved in promoting tourism and celebrating the cultural heritage of our people.

    “It may interest you to know that during our host of the Commonwealth quiz competition, top functionaries of the British government were conducted around some of these beautiful sites.

    “Also, I have sponsored some of our traditional aso-oke weavers to participate in fashion shows of international repute to showcaseenhanceate and enhancing their capacities,” she said.

    Akonitv reports that the conference began on 17 July and will end on 20 July.

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    Breaking News: Ooni of Ife Palace denounces fake romance scam allegations

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    The Palace of the Ooni of Ife has addressed a trending fake news story involving Ms Fagbule, who was allegedly defrauded of $180,000 by a scammer posing as Arole Oduduwa Olofin Adimula, Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, CFR, Ojaja II, the Ooni of Ife.

    According to a release made available Otunba Moses Olafare, Director of Media and Public Affairs at the Ooni’s Palace, clarified that the allegations are unfounded and part of a character assassination tactic aimed at gaining popularity on social media.

    The Palace emphasised that the Ooni does not engage in any personal social media interactions, with all official communications handled by the palace’s media directorate.

    The alleged scam is a fabrication, and the letter used as evidence does not match the Palace’s official letterhead or the Ooni’s style.

    Ms Fagbule, if genuine, is invited to the palace in Ile-Ife for assistance with law enforcement to uncover the perpetrators of this crime.

    The Palace advises the public to be cautious of social media engagements and reiterates that the Ooni does not interface online or via proxies.

    The Palace’s letterhead is distinct, signed by the Ooni as “Arole Oduduwa Olofin Adimula” and not “His Imperial Majesty”.

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    Akpabio reshuffles Senate committees, demotes Ndume to tourism

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    Akpabio reshuffles Senate committees, demotes Ndume to tourism

    The Senate did a minor reshuffling of its standing committees on Wednesday in addition to creating an entirely new Committee on Livestock to oversee the just-established Ministry of Livestock Development.

    The Senate President, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, announced the changes soon after Sen. Ali Ndume was removed as the Majority Whip.

    He was replaced by fellow Borno compatriot, Sen. Mohammed Monguno (Borno-North).

    Monguno also replaced Ndume as the Deputy Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriations, while Ndume was redeployed to chair the Committee on Tourism.

    The Senate President said, “With the elevation of Distinguished Senator (Mohammed) Tahir Monguno to the position of the Majority Whip of the Senate, his committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters will now go to the only Senior Advocate of Nigeria that we have in the 10th Senate.

    “Senator Adegbonmire Adeniyi SAN

    now becomes the Senate Chairman on the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters.

    “The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Tourism becomes Senator Muhammad Ali Ndume.

    “The Chairman of the Senate committee on the proposed Reparation and Repatriation becomes Senator Ned Nwoko.

    “The deputy chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, in line with our earlier practice, lies with Senator Mohammed Tahir Monguno in addition to being the Chief Whip of the Senate.

    “The Deputy Chairman of the Senate Committee on Tourism is Senator Anthony Ani.

    “In line with the spirit of togetherness and forgiveness, Senator Abdul Ningi retains his earlier position of Senate Committee Chairman on Population.

    “The Chairman, Senate Committee on Agri-Institutions, becomes Senator, Simon Lalong.

    “Senator Saliu Mustafa, becomes the chairman of Senate Committee on Livestock Development, a new ministry just created. Any further changes shall be announced in due course.”

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