By Jonathan Ugbal and Ashie Osor
The Cross River State government says it has obtained exploration licences for mineral resources from the federal government.
The licences includes quarry lease for granite, exploration licence for limestone, clay and shale as well as reconnaissance permit.
“Today, we thank the federal government for understanding that states should have the liberty to exploit their natural resources” said Cross River Governor, Senator Ben Ayade while receiving the licenses from Solid Minerals Commissioner, George O’ben-Etchi in Calabar.
Ayade posited that the next step was the provision of financing for exploration as his administration strives to diversify the local economy.
To critics complaining about the ability to finance projects conceived by his administration, Ayade said that: “We are rather inspired by the challenges of our circumstances and so we dream and act big.
“Whatever you conceive within the ambits of the fear of God to improve the livelihood of the people, God will surely lead the way. We have a deep understanding of the natural resources of this state, if federal government can show this generosity and extend same, and have a liberal attitude to gas and oil, we will also in the same vein, start our own refinery as a state.”
However, he admitted that financing was a challenge and called for patience on the part of Cross Riverians.
“Have faith in us, be patient for we will surely deliver,” he said, adding that; “For a sluggish, third world economy like Nigeria, infrastructure will be a key business in the next 100 years.”
He applauded O’ben-Etchi and promised to work on the 11 kilometres camp 2 Mbobui road, Ikot Effangha as a reward for his strides after asking him to make a request.
Earlier, Oben-Etchi while presenting the licenses, averred that the governor displayed his vision for the state when he created the solid minerals ministry long before the nation realized the need to invest in such a sector.
The ministry he said, will “transform the economy of the state, create employment, change the lifestyle of the citizenry and boost business activities in the area.”
Also, he delved into a meme that has become synonymous with the administration as a jibe to critics when he said that: “Even with lean resources in the state, you, the governor, gave us funds from your pocket to aid in our drive. We are prepared to do business and hope that our detractors can look at our books and know that the quarry industries cannot belong to one person, but the state.”
(Photo Credit: Government House Calabar/Dan Williams)
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