… team hails Obaseki, says Edo mining sector organised, promising The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, on Wednesday, received a team of the Nigerian Air Force War College who were in Edo to understudy the state’s mining sector security management system, which has repositioned its mining sector as the third most active in the country.
The Commandant, Air Force War College Nigeria, Air Vice Marshall Abraham Adole, led the Course 9/2023 delegates who are on a study tour to Edo State, with the theme, “Internal Security and Mineral Exploitation in Edo State by 2028: Strategic Options,” on a courtesy visit at the Government House in Benin City.
Receiving the team, Governor Obaseki noted that the issue of security is one of the greatest challenges of the mining sector, stating that his government has adopted a systematic approach, sustaining collaboration with security agencies in the state to ensure safety and security in the sector.
He noted, “We are quite excited that you chose to come to Edo to also understand and throw a bit more light on issues that have challenged us which we have been working assiduously to resolve.
“Mining areas are usually very volatile, security-wise, so what do we do as a state? We've had situations where we had to just prohibit mining activities in certain areas due to tension in the communities.
“We are going to be very interested in getting your views and insights on how we should organize security in areas where extraction is taking place and also to deal with a major issue that comes out of the extractive business which is the security considerations."
Obaseki continued: “We have two strategic resources that, we as a people, have which we must focus on. The first is culture expressed in our arts, defense system, how we conduct ourselves as a people, and our political, social, and cultural institutions which we can proudly say places us in a very unique position in the continent and we believe that if we can diversify our economy to take advantage of these unique cultural assets we have, it gives us a room above everybody else in Nigeria.
“Our goal as a government is to make Edo a cultural hub and we will continue to work hard to invest in these unique assets. It's challenging moving people from where they used to be to where they should be going but we are optimistic that in spite of the lack of understanding of what we are trying to do, we will eventually get to where we expect to be.”
According to him, “Mining is also very important and critical for us. We are lucky that in addition to mineral resources, we also have the largest onshore gas reserve which means that we have the energy sources to process mined resources. Our view is whatever we are doing, there has to be a lot more value addition so that we don't run into a resource curse where you extract and take everything out. Our view is to extract and process locally for the local and international markets.
“We are beginning to see some of that. Limestone for instance, in Okpella, we have two of the largest cement companies in the country who, by the end of this year, will produce an excess of 9 million tonnes of cement and all of that is being utilized in the local market. We have some international companies who are mining things like silicate for glass, phosphate for tiles, and so on.
“Mining is no longer an exclusive reserve of the federal government. We've seen various agencies of the federal government reaching out now to allow more local participation in mining by working with the state and local governments and communities to set up corporations and companies that can organize themselves to raise the required capital and resources to undertake these mining activities."
Reaffirming the government’s commitment to protecting lives and property, Obaseki added, "For us as a subnational, anytime we have the opportunity to contribute our own little bit to strengthening the security apparatus of Nigeria, we see it as a priority.
National power is most expressed by the level of security and order within the national context and the people who are constitutionally responsible for projecting national power are not the politicians but the security structure.”
Earlier, AVM Adole noted, “One of the modules of the course is about coming up with strategies to combat threats and Edo became a case study due to how organized the mining sector in the state is due to the policies and structures put in place by the administration.
"As Nigeria begins to shift its attention towards solid mineral exploitation, the state has established structure, institutions, policies, programmes, and the expertise to drive the process.”
He added, “As of last year, the state held the third largest licenses for mining in Nigeria, indicating a well-organized and promising industry. These are just a few of the reasons that revalidate our choice why we chose Edo State for the study tour of Air War Course 9/2023.
“We not only intend to study the current happenings in the state but also to appraise trends and other variables with a view to forecasting the state of the subject matter by the year 2028.”