How Umahi’s N5m donation assisted us in acquiring mining lease – NGO – By Paulinus Ogbonna

Women In Mining In Nigeria (WIMIN), a mining-based none governmental organisation (NGO) has explained how an N5 million donation by Gov. Dave Umahi to the organisation assisted it to secure two mining leases in Ebonyi.

Miss Sylvia Ogbuinya, the Ebonyi Coordinator of the NGO stated this in an interview with our correspondent on Thursday in Abakaliki.

According to her, the organisation is formed to give women an active voice and help to fight for their rights in the mining sector adding that Umahi has been a strong supporter of women in the fight to actualise gender equity, equality and justice in the mining sector in Ebonyi.

Ogbuinya who noted that due to traditional practices, women were not allowed to own mining sites in Ebonyi in the past stated that through advocacy and sensitisation carried out by the WIMIN, women were now allowed to own mining sites in Ebonyi communities.

She said: “Through this project, because our traditional rulers, community leaders and other stakeholders are involved, Women In Mining In Nigeria, Ebonyi has acquired two mining sites from which we have obtained Consent Letters in Akpuoha, Afikpo North Local Government Area.

“We have applied for a quarry mining lease of four cadastral units and it is from the N5 million that the governor gave to the women in mining in Ebonyi that we used part of it to pay for the mining lease because before now we did not have money to pay.

” It is from the money that we drew a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the community we want to mine in.

“Three women have been included in the cabinet of HRH, Eze Martin Oyibe, the Ohabuenyi of Ameka autonomous community in Ezza North LGA of Ebonyi.”

The coordinator who extolled the supportive role of the governor to the organisation said that Umahi had ensured that women in the mining sector in Ebonyi enjoyed similar rights and privileges as their male counterparts.

On safety and precautionary measures at mining sites, the coordinator said that through regular sensitisation and orientation, women who work in mining sites wear personal protective equipment.

“Before the training and capacity building, our women who work in mining and quarry sites usually do not wear face masks; overall jackets, hand gloves and other PPE but with the sensitisation and orientation given to them, they now wear their PPE.

” Our slogan is, ‘Do the mining right’ we are ensuring that women in mining in Ebonyi must do it right by observing approved safety measures and other precautions.

“Before now, pregnant women used to work in mining sites, but, it’s no longer the case because we have taskforce that moves around mining sites in the state to ensure that no pregnant woman, nursing mother or underaged children operate in mining sites,” she said.

Ogbuinya commended Mrs Janet Adenyemi, the national president of WIMIN for her sterling leadership qualities which she said were the driving force behind the success of the organisation.

She also applauded the Ford Foundation for funding the activities of the WIMIN stressing that the regular training and restraining of members of WIMIN had led to increased awareness and bringing women into the mainstream mining sector in Nigeria. She further noted that the project also assessed the impact of mining as it affects women; cross-examined the socio-economic levels of women in mineral host communities, their tax burden and access to financial facilities among others.

The coordinator also spoke on the recently held two-day End of Project Retreat/Review meeting of the organisation that was held in Abakaliki which brought together stakeholders in the mining sector.

She said that the meeting provided a platform for stakeholders to review the research project carried out on an in-depth review of policies and regulations on the levels of gender gaps in the solid mineral sector at the national and sub-national levels.