TEXT OF THE PRESS CONFERENCE ADDRESSED BY THE CHAIRMAN, YEWA DEFENDER ORGANIZATION, MR. TEMITOPE AMUSAN ON THE PROPOSED COAL MILLING PROJECT BY DANGOTE CEMENT PLC, IBESE
DATE: FRIDAY 20TH JANUARY 2023
VENUE: GBADEBO OMIDOKUN MULTIPURPOSE TOWN HALL
THEME: PANEL REVIEW OF THE EIA REPORT VIS-A-VIS GLOBAL INDUSTRIAL BEST PRACTICES.
Good morning gentlemen and welcome to this press conference. Dangote Cement Plc, Ibese, founded in 2012 is one of the biggest cement manufacturing companies and one of the many conglomerates under Dangote Group of companies located in Ibese, YewaNorth Local Government Area of Ogun State. The company, since its establishment eleven years ago, has leveraged on the warm reception, support and solidarity of monarchs/peoples of the various host communities, socio-cultural organizations, like YewaDefender Organization and other stakeholders in Yewaland. This, undoubtedly has necessitated the continuous peace and harmony enjoyed by the organization till date in Yewaland.
2. In fulfillment of its corporate objectives and responsibilities, Yewa Defender Organization has, at all times, in its engagements with all business concerns in Yewaland, advocate strict adherence to industrial best practices, implementation of corporate social responsibilities for improved welfare and better conditions for our people, especially those within the operational precinct of their organizations. It should be placed on record that Yewa Defender Organization and management of Dangote Cement Plc, Ibese, like any other organization in Yewaland have in the past five or more years enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship founded on understanding and cooperation aimed at promoting communal/industrial relation betweenDangote Cement Plc and our people.
3. Now, the real issue. Recall that Yewa Defender Organization in July this year intercepted a radio announcement about the proposed coal milling project by Dangote Cement Plc at its Ibese-Yewa plant. The Federal Ministry of Environment had in that announcement actually sent out public notice, (Ref:FMEnv/EA/EIA/5232/Vol.1/86,) signed by one Dr. Musa Gashau on behalf of the Hon. Minister requesting for public/stakeholders comments and opinions on the proposed coal milling by DangoteCement Plc, Ibese. The letter, dated 9th June, 2022 was supposed to be accompanied with a draft copy of theEnvironmental Assessment Report, (EIA) for assessment by interested stakeholders and members of the public. After which a mandatory panel review of the EIA would take place before the Federal Ministry of Environment grants Dangote Cement Plc the required milling license. Also note that the notice was supposed be on display, particularly at the Headquarters of Yewa North Local Government, Ayetoro for 21 (Twenty-one Days). For unknown reasons, however the display at the LGA Secretariatlasted for just 12 hours!
4. On interception of the radio announcement and our resolve to dig into the root of the matter, some of our executive members were promptly dispatched to the Federal Ministry of Environment, Abuja to protest against the glaring lack of due process and other observed anomalies in the handling of the display of the said EIA report (Environmental Impact Analysis) of the proposed coal milling project at Dangote Cement Plant, Ibese. Knowing full well that the required inputs from the host communities are in fulfillment of the provisions of the EIA Act CAP E12 LFN 2004 as applicable to the milling project, and suspicious of a possible breach of the process, Yewa Defender Organization, before proceeding to Abuja in August, 2022, raised the alarm, through an Electronically Signed letter dated 25th of July, 2022 to intimate the Federal Minister of Environment, Abuja, the OgunState government agencies and all stakeholders in the state on the possible effects of such breaches on the lives and welfare of the people of Dangote Cement’s host communities, Yewaland and Ogun State in general.
5. Gentlemen, we will like to put on record that our mission to Abuja was very successful as the Ministry of Environment did not only appreciate the timely intervention by Yewa Defender Organization by acceding to all our requests, but regretted identified lapses and infractions and charged the organization to be in the forefront of coordinating, collating and submission of public memoranda, inputs and opinions of stakeholders on the proposed coal milling project at a well organized Panel Review. According to Mr. Abbas Suleiman, Director Environmental Impact Assessment Department who attended to YewaDefender Organizatioin on behalf of Federal Ministry of Environment, Abuja. The ministry would license Dangote Cement Plc, Ibese on the coal milling when Yewa community is satisfied with the processes that would necessitate same. The outcome of our Abuja trip, particularly the resolutions and assurances given by the Federal Ministry of Environment was duly conveyed to all Yewa leaders including highly revered Paramount Ruler of Yewaland, HRM, Oba KehindeOlugbenle, MFR, Hon Olaifa Jimo Aremu, member representing Egbado North/Imeko Afon Federal Constituency, some host community monarchs, Chairman Yewa People Development Council Prof. Rahman Bello, former Head of Service Elder Sola Adeyemi and host of others
6. In achieving assigned mandate given by the Federal Ministry of Environment, Yewa Defender Organization, on arrival from Abuja had, then, intended to hold a press conference /public seminar to sensitize members of the public on the details of the EIA report and also provide a forum for all stakeholders, particularly experts in the field of mining and other related matters to present their views and opinions on the proposed coal milling project after studying the EIA report.Some top management personnel of Dangote Plc, Ibese got wind of the proposed press conference/public seminar and pleaded on our organization as an ally of many years to put the conference on hold until our members had met with the management of Dangote Plc, to hear their own side of the story about the proposed project.
7. After due consultations with some respectable monarchs and leaders of thought in Yewaland and also in honor of the existing mutual relationship between our organization and Dangote Cement Plc, Ibese, the proposed press conference/public seminar wassuspended. The suspension was followed up with a high powered meeting with Dangote’s top management staff at Dangote Plc Project Office Ikeja, Lagos State August 16th, 2022 to discuss the way forward. Please,note that the highlight of that meeting was that a fresh public display and panel review of the EIA report will be organized by Dangote Cement Plc without further delay to assuage our suspicions and fulfill all righteousness in respect of the proposed coal milling project to the satisfaction of all stakeholders. It is therefore regrettable to note that in spite of several meetings held (physically and virtually), between August 2022 and now, the management of DangoteCement Plc, Ibese has failed to fulfill its promises in conveying a fresh display/review of EIA report. Rather,the company’s management has since embarked on subterfuge bureaucratic antics to frustrate the proposed public review.
The questions begging for urgent answers are:
1. Why did the Dangote Cement management fail to observe due diligence and procedure in carrying out the initial public display of the EIA report of the proposed project in July 2022 by adequately informing stakeholders in the host communities?
2. Why, since August 2022 and in spite of instructions by the Federal Ministry of Environment is the company unwilling to carry out fresh public display within 21 days and followed up by a Panel Review of the report?
3. It is an indisputable fact that the proposed coal milling project portends serious environmental hazards and grave health implications to the people of the host communities and by extension Yewaland. What measures are being put in place by the organization to mitigate such?
4. If the company finds it difficult or unwilling to carry out the mandatory public display and review, what assurances do we have that it will implement the eventual recommendations of the experts on the proposed coal milling project?
5. Why is Dangote Cement Plc afraid of Panel Review of the EIA report?
8. From the foregoing, it has become imperative for us as an organization to put issues in perspective and by this media briefing alert the global community of the impending environmental catastrophe that may be visited on Yewa communities if Dangote Cement Plc fails to do the needful in respect of its coal milling project. It is a common knowledge that Ibese and otherhost communities in Yewaland are already suffering the heavy impact of limestone blasting by DangoteCement on their houses, farmlands and water wells. A visit to these areas will reveal the levels of environmental degradation which is further compounded by inadequate or lack of social amenities from the company to cushion the effects of such environmental hazards.
9. While we acknowledge and commend some of the advertized community development projects executed by Dangote Cement Plc as part of its corporate social responsibility, CSR, in the host communities over the years, we cannot close our eyes to the impending danger of environmental degradation, social dislocation and health challenges that will be visited on our people if necessary steps are not taken in respect of the proposed coal milling in Dangote Cement plant at Ibese. It will be a great disservice to our people and setting of bad precedence if we keep mute at this point in time.
10. Gentlemen, if Dangote Cement Plc reserves the right to alternative and cheaper source of energy for its operations, it is equally an undisputable fact that our people living in the host communities and beyond have exclusive rights to decent and harmonious living environment.We must emphasize very clearly here that the issue at stake has generated a lot of discontent amongst our various stakeholders; particularly the youth and a lot of efforts have been made to calm frayed nerves and plead for amicable resolution of the matter. We must however state here that we cannot continue to hold them at bay in perpetuity!
11. We therefore call on the Federal Ministry of Environment and its agencies to withhold the issuance of coal milling license to the management of DangoteCement Plc, Ibese until the company has satisfied all terms and conditions attached to such. We also appeal to the relevant agencies in Ogun State to beam their searchlights on the activities of Dangote Cement Plc, Ibese (particularly on the issue at stake or any related matter) and any other business organizations in Yewaland with a view to ensuring that Yewacommunities are not short-changed or denied their legitimate rights and privileges on their God –Given resources.
12. Finally, we admonish all socio-cultural associations and stakeholders in Yewaland to join hands with YewaDefender Organization in embarking on diplomatic engagement with all business organizations resident in Yewaland with a view to articulating, promoting and defending the interests and welfare of our people.
I thank you all for your kind attention.
TEXT OF THE PRESS CONFERENCE AND PUBLIC SENSITISATION ADDRESSED BY MR. TEMITOPE AMUSAN PRESIDENT YEWA DEFENDER ORGANIZATION AT AYETORO-YEWA, MONDAY 8TH AUGUST, 2022
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