By Sylvia Akpan
An NGO, Green Concern for Development (GREEN CODE) has ended a day town hall meeting on the cost of corruption in the extractive industries in Cross River State.
The town hall meeting which was in collaboration with BudgIT was held on Tuesday at Akai Efa town hall in Calabar, the State capital.
In his speech, the National Coordinator of GREENCODE, Mr. Edem Edem stressed the need for the media to increase its effort in helping combat the adverse effects of corruption incurred on host communities by the extractive industries.
Mr. Edem said that “It is a town hall meeting and we are here to rub minds together to become more vigilant about some of these things so that you will not be left with adverse consequences of corruption in the extractive industries.
“Before the 76 oil well, we used to be an oil-producing state but as of now, we are no longer the oil-producing state, and by Nigerian law, our extraction industry is made up of three components; the gas, oil, and solid minerals and now in Cross River State, two has been taken and we are now left with one which is the solid minerals and the volume of revenue gotten from that extraction alone should be used for development.
“But where there are leakages and this money is not going to where it is supposed to go, and even when it hits the target and it is not used for what it is supposed to be used for, then we will keep on crying for development.”
Also speaking, Mr. Akpa Agbor, Director of Quality Control, Cross River State Ministry of Environment, who represented the Commissioner for Solid Mineral posited that “My happiness is that most of the participants are from host communities. As regulators, what we face in the field is always terrible. They will drive, attack, pursue and abuse us, little do they know that what I’m trying to say is that apart from the revenue from the community, most of the host communities do not know the impact some of these extractive industries cause on their environment.
“They just look at regulators who go into such companies to ask them if they have applied best environmental practices. They just look at them as enemies who go there to get money from such industries they would have gotten, which is absolutely wrong.”
He cited the mismanagement of waste generated from the crushing of rocks in Akamkpa LGA as a low-hanging fruit.
Also speaking, Mr. Kingsley Eworo, Executive Secretary of Budget Transparency, and Accountability Initiative Nigeria (BTAN) talked about the opportunity cost of corruption in the extractive sector and the strategies for combating it.
He reiterated that the overall objective of the town hall is to strengthen the capacity of citizens in host communities to demand transparency and accountability from extractive sector regulators and players.
On his part, Mr. Williams Itoro, Director in the State Board of Internal Revenue who spoke on harnessing extractive revenue for development emphasized the positive gains of extractive industry in economic development.