By Deji Elumoye
The Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, yesterday kicked against the recent sale of gold bar by Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), saying the governor has no right to sell the mineral resources that belong to the federal government.
Omo-Agege who spoke during Senate plenary, while contributing to the general debate on 2021 budget, wondered why a state governor will have the audacity to sell gold bar to the apex bank.
According to him, the gold found in any state belongs to the federal government, adding that the revenue generated from such mineral resources like gold are to be shared among all the 36 states and Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
He said: “Not too long ago, we saw the Governor of Zamfara State come before the CBN to present a gold bar worth close to about N5billion. The gold bar was presented for sale to the CBN. Mr. President, 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 the governor of a state should be selling gold bar from Zamfara State 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 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 these international borrowings.”
It will be recalled that Item 39 under the Exclusive Legislative List of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) states that mines and minerals including oil fields, oil mining, geological surveys and natural gas are exclusively under the control of the federal government.
Also, the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act 2007, which was passed into law on March 16, 2007, to repeal the Minerals and Mining Act, No. 34 of 1999 for the purposes of regulating the exploration and exploitation of solid materials in Nigeria vested the control of all properties and minerals in Nigeria in the state, and prohibits unauthorised exploration or exploitation of minerals.
The Act further stated that all lands in which minerals have been found in commercial quantities shall from the commencement of the Act be acquired by the federal government in accordance with the Land Use Act.
Commenting on the budget, Omo-Agege canvassed for sustainable peace in the Niger Delta region so that the daily oil output can be realisable.
He said: “For us to be able to achieve the 1.86million barrels per day, certain things must be in place. We must maintain the peace in the Niger Delta Region before we can achieve this. Mr. President, when I say this, it begins to sound like a broken record. Every day, for those of us who represent the Niger Delta, we hardly sleep. We are very worried about every concern because these people are the golden eggs that take care of this economy.
“But Mr. President, they are jobless. There is nothing for them to do. It is very important that the youths of these communities are engaged. The only way to engage these youths is for the oil companies, who explore oil in these communities in the Niger Delta that they help in creating jobs for the youths and the only way to do that is to have their business operations headquarters located within the Niger Delta.
“In the absence of this, you will have all the youths participating in this agitation against SARS. The only reason they are in the streets is because there are no jobs to engage them. Once again, I want to appeal that the oil companies doing businesses in this country should relocate their headquarters to the region”.