08 December 2016, Sweetcrude, Abuja – A bill for an Act seeking to grant states in the country control over minerals resources within their domain has passed second reading in the House of Representatives.
The bill which is sponsored by the minority leader, Hon. Leo Ogor seeks to vest the control of revenues derived from mineral resources on the states where they are found.
It has as its long title: “A Bill for an Act to alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, to vest the control of the revenues derived from minerals, mineral oils, natural gas in, under or upon any land in the states of the federation and for other related matters.”
Ogor, in his lead debate, said the bill if passed into law will give impetus to the quest by the government to diversify its economy, as states will focus on areas where they have a comparative advantage.
He noted every state in the country is endowed with one natural resource or the other, noting that if these resources are well harnessed, it will make the states less dependent on the federal allocations.
The minority leader added that if the bill is passed into law, it will help the country function better as a federal state.
“We are confronted with a situation where states go cap in hand every month to Abuja for federal allocation. When states take up resources in their areas, it will lead to specialisation. The exclusive legislative list is overcrowded,” Ogor said.
In his contribution, the member representing Sagbama/Ekeremor federal constituency of Bayelsa state, Hon. Fredrick Agbedi observed that the bill was long overdue. He opined that if it is passed into law, it would help to enhance the economy of the country and the pull the nation out of recession.
“We need to take practical steps to see that w end this recession. We will not be able to end the recession if states continue to come to Abuja to collect money”, he said.
The member representing Fufore/Song federal constituency of Adamawa state, Hon. Sadiq Ibrahim raised a point of order. Citing order 13(3), he said in line with the rule of the House, the matter ought to be debated until it has scaled through in the constitution amendment committee.
The speaker, Hon Yakubu Dogara, who presided yesterday’s plenary agreed with him; “I think Sadiq is right, we may just be wasting our time if it does not scale through in the constitution amendment committee.”
The bill was however referred to Special Ad-hoc Committee on the Review of the 1999 constitution after it narrowly scaled through in a voice vote.