TEXT OF THE PRESS CONFERENCE AND PUBLIC SENSITISATION ADDRESSED BY MR. TEMITOPE AMUSAN PRESIDENT YEWA DEFENDER ORGANIZATION AT AYETORO-YEWA, MONDAY 8TH AUGUST, 2022 ON PUBLIC DISPLAY EXERCISE FOR THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT (EIA) OF THE PROPOSED COAL MILLING PROJECT AT DANGOTE CEMENT PLANT, IBESE, YEWA NORTH LOCAL GOVERNMENT, OGUN STATE BY DANGOTE CEMENT PLC
Good morning gentlemen and welcome to this press conference. Yewa Defender Organization, YDO is a non-political, non-profit seeking and an independent socio-cultural organization committed to promoting socio-economic interests and welfare of Yewa people at home and in the diaspora.
2. Our organization, among others has for many years been striving to spiritedly promote peaceful co-existence amongst our people in various Yewa communities, interface with both local and state governments for improved socio-economic and infrastructural facilities in Yewaland, and had had causes to seek audience with the state government, precisely the Teaching Service Commission Ogun State as regards adequate staffing of secondary schools in Yewaland.
3. As a stakeholder, YDO has also established mutual and symbiotic relationship with corporate organizations domiciled in Yewa communities, including Dangote Cement, Plc with a view to ensuring strict compliance with their corporate social responsibilities, (CSR) and adherence to rules of engagement all in line with international best practices to their various host communities and stakeholders.
4. Gentlemen, extant laws of mining recognise host communities and stakeholders where a mining industry has been sited. Host communities are towns and villages housing deposits of the mineral mined. While stakeholders are towns and villages linking host communities geographically and by creed.
– In other words, every Yewa town is connected with Dangote Cement PLC, DCP one way or another.
5. As the largest conglomerate in our clime, DCP Ibese has not only fulfilled its corporate obligations to Ogun State Government and Federal Government of Nigeria, the plant has over the years provided employment opportunities and instituted socio-economic infrastructures for the host communities. The location of the plant has also greatly enhanced commercial activities in various communities and brought global attention to Yewaland.
6. Why are we here? About a fortnight ago, YDO sighted a memo, (ref: FMEnv/EA/EIA/5232/Vol.1/86)
written by the Federal Ministry of Environment, Environment House Abuja and pasted on one of Yewa North Local Government Area notice board with respect to a proposed coal milling project to be commenced by Dangote Cement Plc at its Ibese-Yewa plant. The Federal Ministry of Environment, Abuja had in the said memo, signed by Dr Musa Gashau beckoned on members of the public to submit stakeholders comments and opinions on the proposed coal milling by Dangote Cement Plc, Ibese. The letter, dated 9th June, 2022 was supposed to be accompanied by a draft copy of Environmental Assessment Report, (EIA) to be studied by individual stakeholders. Studying the report is to enhance proper assessment of the dictates of the project and guide opinions and
inputs of the necessary stakeholders. Afterwards, all collated opinions and views are to be submitted to the Federal Ministry of Environment before Dangote Cement Plc, Ibese Plant is issued the required milling license.
–We also understand from the content of the letter that the public notice/sensitization was to last between 15th June and 13th July, 2022 and that the deadline for submission of such comments and opinions by relevant stakeholders was 20th July, 2022.
7. Yewa Defender Organization, however discovered that the copy of the memo asking for opinions and views on the EIA DID NOT get to the office of the Executive Chairman of Yewa North Local Government Area until 19th July, 2022, a day before the stipulated deadline for submission of opinions!
–Knowing fully well that the required inputs from opinion leaders and experts 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, the organization raised the alarm, through an Electronically Signed letter dated 25th of July, 2022 to intimate the Federal Minister of Environment, Abuja, and copied relevant Ogun State government agencies, and Yewa community leaders on the possible effects of such breaches on the lives of the people of Dangote Cement’s host communities, stakeholder towns and Ogun State in general.
8. Not leaving anything to chances Yewa Defender sent a 4-man delegation to Abuja by road, (no thanks to prompt accessibility of airline tickets) to hand-deliver the letter stating its findings and position to the Hon. Minister of Environment.
–Below are some of the organization’s prayers presented to the Ministry of Environment through the Department of Environmental Impact Assessment, (EIA). The Director Environmental Assessment Federal Ministry of Environment was at hand to receive the YDO delegation.
–Prayer One: Yewa Defender Organization is deeply worried about the seemingly secrecy surrounding the public announcement and the late arrival of letter of request for inputs and opinions from relevant stakeholders of the affected communities on the proposed coal milling project by Dangote Cement at its Ibese plant.
–Prayer Two: The organization also frowns at the non-availability of the draft copy of EIA for assessment and required correspondences between the relevant Yewa stakeholders, Ogun State government and the Federal Ministry of Environment.
–Prayer Three: YDO is not oblivious of the fact that the proposed coal milling project by Dangote Cement at its Ibese plant is aimed at improving the company’s operational capacity, the organization is however, deeply concerned and worried about its environmental impact on the community vis-a-vis the capacity and availability of relevant infrastructural provisions to withstand the milling, safety of the people of the community, welfare of the people and how the milling could have anything doing with the health of the people of the communities in around the plant.
9. Gentlemen, while noting with dismay the apparent exclusion of relevant stakeholders from the process, the organization hereby appeals to both the State and Federal Ministry of Environment to halt the granting of coal milling license to Dangote Cement Plc, Ibese until all necessary requirements are fulfilled.
10. At this juncture, the group finds it imperative to admonish the Federal Ministry of Environment to disregard any signed documents purportedly written and signed by any individuals or groups from Dangote host communities in Yewa North Local Government Area ostensibly signifying that all was correct. All is not correct until due process is followed, and the commencement of the coal milling meets international best practices.
11. Gentlemen, YDO would like to put it on record that our mission to Abuja was very successful as the Hon Minister of Environment through the ministry’s Environmental Assessment Director did not only appreciate the timely intervention of YDO by acceding to all our requests, he regretted the identified lapses and infractions and entrusted Yewa Defender organization with the responsibility of coordinating, collating and submission of a memoranda, inputs and opinions of those who matter on the proposed coal milling project to the Federal Ministry of Environment, Abuja. The ministry gave its words that it will only proceed in licensing DCP accordingly if and only if necessary, conditions were met and Yewa community was satisfied.
12. Yewa Defender Organization, on arrival from its trip to the Federal Capital Territory has duly informed all relevant stakeholders, particularly the highly revered Yewa Paramount Ruler, HRM, Oba Kehinde Olugbenle, MFR, the Alaye of Ayetoro HRM Oba Abdul Azeez Isola Adelakun as the traditional ruler of the local government headquarter which houses the DCP, monarchs of the Dangote Cement, Ibese host communities, and Yewa Development Council headed by the immediate past Vice Chancellor of University of Lagos Professor Raman Bello, about the outcome of its mission to Abuja.
13. In conclusion, to effectively carry out the Abuja assignment, Yewa Defender Organization has concluded plans to hold a stakeholder meeting with the monarchs of Dangote Cement host communities, and also organize a public seminar to sensitize members of the public on the details of the Environmental Impact Assessment report of the proposed coal milling project. The proposed seminar will also afford stakeholders, particularly experts in the field of mining and other related matters to present their views and opinions on the proposed coal milling project for collation and submission to the Federal Ministry of Environment, Abuja and other agencies of federal and state governments. All this within one or at most two weeks.
–In the meantime, mining and milling experts, environmentalists, scientists, experienced administrators in the field of coal milling or mining can begin to forward their views and opinions on the subject matter to Yewa Defender Organization on: (to include org’s email, Jide’s and my WhatsApp numbers)
I thank you for identifying with Yewa Defender Organization and of course Yewaland.
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