–Blank NEWS Online (NIGERIA) –From Michael EKOKORUWE:
Isoko Nation has kicked against the alleged sale of a bar of Zamfara gold to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for N5 billion by the Zamfara state government and supported the Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo–Agege as he faults the arrangement that allows a state to sell mineral resources to the federal government.
A press statement by the Apex body of Isoko Nation signed by the President General of Isoko Development Union, High Chief Iduh Amadhe, described the action as provocative and a perpetrated injustice to the Niger Delta region.
The statement condemned the arrangement that allows a state to sell mineral resources to the federal government, noting that the sale is a breach of the laws guiding exploitation of mineral resources in Nigeria.
The statement described the action as anti–peace, culpable of creating tension and anarchy in the region, maintaining that it negates the constitutional position of one Nigeria in the federal allocation sharing formula.
The statement added that, Nigeria majorly depends on the Niger Delta, particularly Isoko Nation communities, but continuously ignore the demand of the people for resource control and restructuring.
Recall that the Deputy Senate President faulted the arrangement while contributing to a debate on the 2021 Appropriation bill during Senate plenary on October 14th 2020.. Omo Agege said his constituents and other Niger Delta people are worried about the development since all proceeds from oil in the territory solely go to the federal account.
He insisted that “the proceeds from the sale ought to be remitted to the federal government account not credited to the account of Zamfara state government”.
The Deputy Senate President said, “it is clear that only two sources identified in the budget for the funding of the budget is revenue from oil on the most part, and borrowings, both local and foreign”, adding that we have other sources of revenue that is not looked into by the federal government.
“Not too long ago, we saw the Governor of Zamfara state come before CBN to present a gold bar worth close to about N5 billion and the gold bar was presented for sale to the CBN. Our people are beginning to wonder who owns the gold that is been sold to the CBN”, he said.
He maintained that, “No state sells oil in the Niger Delta region. I am wondering why a governor of a state should be selling gold bar from Zamfara to CBN”. Omo–Agege stated that whatever revenue that ought to come from that transaction belongs to the entire country and not the state government.
The Deputy Senate President said, “There is a lot of revenue that will take the burden from international borrowing which needs to be explored by the federal government”.
Also in a separate statement signed by the Chairman of Isoko Advancement Network (IAN), Chief Paul John Odhomor, the Network noted that the deafening silence of the Senators by deliberately refusing to debate the issue on the floor of the Senate sends dangerous signals to the people of the Niger Delta region that contributes so much to the national GDP.
“The IAN is aware that solid minerals is one of the items in the Exclusive Legislative List of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) like oil and gas. It is incredible that the man from Gusau can sell gold directly to the apex bank and an Isoko man from the Niger Delta cannot sell crude oil and gas directly to the NNPC. The IAN frowns at this negative development and warned that this kind of inequalities in the handling of the exploitation of natural resources in Nigeria can trigger youth restiveness in the Delta.”
The IAN noted that the youths of the Niger Delta region are already agitated as there was no justification for the criminalization of their activities with oil and gas facilities in the region while their Zamfara counterparts approaches the vault of the CBN as off takers of their gold.
It however, called on the Federal Government to implement relevant policies towards solid mineral exploration and exploitation with a view to improving the balance sheet of the Country.