Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has criticized the application of some laws in the country that allows some states like Zamfara mine and manage gold and other solid minerals in their domains while stopping Niger Delta states from managing their oil and gas resources.
The governor noted that the policy was “discriminatory” saying that states in the South-South region were united in the quest for the restructuring of the country.
“We cannot apply laws in such a manner that it becomes discriminatory because you cannot mine solid minerals somewhere in Zamfara and you can’t allow Niger Delta to manage their oil,” Okowa said during his quarterly interaction with journalists in Asaba.
Okowa, who is the Chairman of the South-South Governors’ Forum noted that Nigeria isn’t making progress as it ought to because the issues of restructuring and resource control are yet to be addressed.
According to him, restructuring and resource control as well as security would form a major plank of the discussion at a meeting between a presidential delegation and leaders of the South-South billed for Port Harcourt on Friday.
“The South-South Governors have been at the forefront for the devolution of power to states and local governments.
“Restructuring, resource control, and security of the country, especially in the Niger Delta will be a major topic of discussion at the Presidential parley coming up in Port Harcourt,” he noted.
All mineral resources under the Nigerian constitution are controlled by the federal government, but many however argue that doing so opposes the idea of true federalism, in which component states are expected to manage their affairs and only contribute to the federal coffers through tax.
Calls for the implementation of true federalism and for the restructuring of the country have been rebuffed for years.
However, the federal government recently announced its support for artisanal mining of gold in some northern states, including Zamfara. President Muhammadu Buhari launched the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative, a comprehensive artisanal and small-scale gold mining development programme in 2019.
By Abel Ejikeme