Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa said it is discriminatory for the Federal Government to allow Zamfara to manage its mineral deposits while restricting oil producing states in the southern part of the country from controlling theirs.
Okowa, who is the chairman of the South-South Governors Forum, stated this on Wednesday at an interactive session with journalists in Asaba, the Delta State capital.
He said that Zamfara State Government was doing was clearly an illegality, warning that if the matter was not properly addressed, South -South governors would have no option than to assume control of oil and gas in their states.
“South-South governors before now have been talking about the need for restructuring and need for resource control, obviously we are on that because we feel there is the need to restructure not only the country, but the management of resources.
“But as at today, there are acts in the National Assembly that guide the issue of oil production and with the solid minerals, those are not covered in these acts and obviously, this is already a sore point in our nation’s governance system and we hope to express this very strongly during the meeting taking place in Portharcourt on Friday.
“We cannot apply laws in our nation to the point that it becomes discriminatory because if people are allowed to process for their solid minerals, they should also be allowed to do same for their oil. So we are going to be very hard and try to make our voice as strong as possible during the meeting.
“I believe that at some point in time, these discriminatory tendencies will have to be revisited in our nation at some point in time.”
Speaking on the demands of oil bearing communities in the state to manage the 13 percent derivation accrued to them, the governor said: “I think it’s important that we put our energy in the right direction, because people have the wrong concepts on what needs to be done.
“I’m not a lawyer, but I believe that the constitution is very straight forward on how derivation monies should be handled and who should handle it.
“What we are doing as at today is to drive the process in the PIB where the oil bearing communities will have some leverages and be provided for in the law which allows them to have a percentage that will help them to strengthen the relationship between them and the oil companies.
“This is because if every community rises and say they want to control their resources, Nigeria will eventually become a banana republic and their will be no control, hence no country or state.
“Take a look at Delta State for instance, there are 20 or 21 LGAs that are oil producing, if every community tries to control its own, am sure that the crisis and battles that will come out of it will be beyond our control.
“Though people have their views and they have the rights to such views, it is for us to follow the constitutionality and the laws of the land at the moment. I believe that having voted governors and lawmakers, we should allow them manage these resources and if they are not doing enough, we can vote them out in the next four years.
“Besides, it’s not a question of I want to manage the 13 percent, they ought to say they want to manage the 100 percent. What about the 87percent being shared among other States in the country?
“You did not push for the 87percent but it’s the 13 percent coming to the state that you want to manage, it does not make sense. Unfortunately, people just want to be heard and noticed.
“And by the time the governor’s are talking on their own, you are getting a group of communities talking and those ones have a different view point. By the time this division is created, what then happens? They will say we are singing in different tones, that you do not have a collective voice on the management of resources in your region.
“And this will divert the attention of adequate restructuring of the country the way we ought to talk about it. So there is a lot of politics going on, but I believe the governors of the South-South are doing well enough and having visited most states in the country, I can affirm that the South-South governors are indeed doing very well amidst the challenges we have to manage.”
Okowa hinted that governors of the oil- rich region, ministers, lawmakers and other stakeholders would meet on Friday, at Port-Harcourt, Rivers state, to deliberate and take position on the matter and other issues.
KanyiDaily recalls that Zamfara Government had recently sealed a N5 billion deal with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the supply of gold equivalent of the amount.