Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State
By Ike Abonyi and Senator Iroegbu
Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State has backed calls for resource control, urging the federal government to hands off states' resources so that "states can explore, develop and harness their resources for development".
This is the first time a governor from a Northern state would be voicing support for resource control clamour.
Yari who spoke exclusively to THISDAY recently, said it was borne out of the personal conviction that every state in Nigeria is viable.
He noted that federal laws have limited component states of the federation from exploring and exploiting their mineral resources and causing them to depend "on monthly handouts from Abuja," adding that if encouraged, his state alone can feed the entire Northern Nigeria.
Said Yari: "We are handicapped and handcuffed because of this law that brought us into one basket of the economy. My own state can feed many parts of this country. Keep oil apart, we have abundant resources; we have the best iron ore confirmed by the Australian authorities.
"We have the best gold in the world, confirmed by the Australian authorities. We have the best copper, confirmed by the Australian authorities. So what are we talking about? All these are resources that we can tap to complement what we are getting from the federal government."
Yari also denounced calls for the review of the present revenue sharing formula, saying that such agitation "is irrelevant in the present socio-political and economic arrangement of Nigeria." This position runs contrary to that commonly held by virtually all the governors of the federation.
He advised those clamouring for a review of the revenue sharing formula, especially the Northern Governors’ Forum to perish the idea.
Said the Zamfara governor: "Why should there even be a formula in the first place? Why? I am not asking for any formula change or what have you. What I am asking for, which I believe would promote and develop this country, is to let each and every state go and have its own independent economy. We are not made to be lazy.
"Anybody that comes to any key position in the state, let him crack his brain. Let him use his position whether as a governor or what have you to manage the state and get it something. Not relying on a change in revenue sharing formula.
"There are some countries that have oil, but they don’t give a damn about oil money. They are selling oil, but up till now, they have not been touching oil money. They try to be creative."
The Zamfara State governor condemned "over reliance on oil and Nigeria’s apparent lack of foresight to develop other sources of revenue," which he said is in abundant in the country.
The former member of the House of Representatives claimed that the country had not achieved anything with oil money: "There are so many questions I used to ask when I was in the House and I also repeated the same questions in the Economic Council. Why are we talking about this oil, when we know that since we have been tapping the oil we have not achieved anything with it?
"What did the oil help us to do? Why can’t we have an alternative to oil as a source of revenue? All these questions needed to be answered. We are struggling, struggling. Oil, money, 13 percent, 15 percent, offshore, onshore and all sorts."
Yari added: "The easy money that is being generated by the sale of crude oil has made the nation, especially the policy makers, lazy rent-seekers."
He lambasted the federal and state governments and planners of the Nigerian economy for not thinking outside the oil revenue, which he said, was not sustainable.
"How much is oil contributing to the Nigerian economy? Making us lazy, not to farm; not to tap our abundant resources and to get cheap money. A governor will take two, three, four billion naira, divide it into two and share with his colleagues.
"If it has been tax payers’ money, can your governor be doing what he is doing? No, but he can do that with oil revenue because it is money he does not know where it came from. So, he thinks it does not belong to the public."