Nigerian Senate deputy head kicks against state control of gold exploration
The deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege has questioned the rationale behind a part of the federation take charge of the mineral resources of the country against the dictate of the constitution.
Contributing to debate of the 2021 budget proposal, Omo-Agege said a situation where Zamfara State was allowed to sell gold to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) without remitting the proceeds to the federation account is illegal and violate the constitution of the country.
The deputy Senate president said his constituents and other Niger Delta people were worried about the development since all proceeds from oil in their territory solely go to the Federation Account.
He said the proceeds from the alleged sale of gold by the Zamfara State put at N5 billion ought to be remitted to the federation account and not credited to the account of the State government.
“There is also something that is troubling our people which I think I should also bring up here.
“It is clear that the only two sources identified in the budget for the funding of the budget is the revenue from oil on the most part and borrowings, both local and foreign.
“But, we also have other sources or potential sources of revenue that is not being looked at.
He said while the country continued to talk about revenue leakages, the government neglect to go go directly to the solid mineral sector and exploit to generate enough resources to fund the budget.
“Not too long ago, we saw the Governor of Zamfara State come before the CBN to present a gold bar worth close to about N5 billion.
“The gold bar was presented for sale to the CBN. Our people are beginning to wonder who owns this gold that is being sold to the CBN.
“They don’t sell oil in any of the Niger Delta states. I am wondering why a governor of a state should be selling gold bar from Zamfara to the CBN.
“There are two problems with that. We believe that whatever revenue that ought to come from that transaction belongs to the entire country and not belonging to the state government.
“That is number one and we should actually look into that. That is an area we really need to develop.
“There is a lot of revenue that could come from there that will take the burden from this international borrowing,” Omo-Agege said.
Nigeria is polarised on who controls natural resources in the country as the federal government allowed unhindered exploitation of solid minerals in the North while holding firmly to the petroleum resources being exploited in the southern part of the country.
The issue of resource control by the federating units have continued to dominate the debate on the need to restructure the country to give each national the right to exploit their own resources.