Port Harcourt — A member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Farah Dagogo, has described the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative, PAGMDI, as semantics for resource control, ‘designed to deceive Nigerians but heavily skewed to favour a particular part of the country.’
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari officially presented locally mined gold bars made by the PAGMDI to the Central Bank of Nigeria, for which CBN paid the sum of N268million for 12.5kg of gold.
President Buhari, justifying the move, had said that the PAGMDI scheme would help reshape gold mining activities in the country and prevent loss of value to illegal miners and smugglers. Majority of gold deposit and other solid minerals in Nigeria are found in North, while a larger percentage of crude oil and gas is found in the South.
But, Dagogo, who represents Degema/Bonny Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, said the whole idea behind PAGMDI was a smokescreen perfected to enable miners in the North to be fully responsible for the sale and distribution of their mineral resources (gold), unlike what was obtainable in the South.
The Lamaker wondered why the President has not initiated such a noble programme for natural resources in other parts of the country, especially the South South, explaining that the PAGDMI scheme gives the North 100percent resource control, whereas the South was at the mercy of 13percent derivation.
According to him, “The whole PAGMDI scheme is a smokescreen for resource control. It is all semantics designed to deceive Nigerians but heavily skewed to favour a particular section of the country.
“The Nigerian Government had at several times denied the South South, the South East and the South West the right to control their resources, why then will you allow the North to control its resources through the cover of PAGMDI?”
The lawmaker quoted President Buhari as saying that the gold buying scheme by CBN through PAGMDI, will ensure that artisanal miners are no longer subjected to the volatility in gold prices that occurs in the absence of credible off-takers, which has often led to a significant loss in the value of gold sold by miners, as well as in encouraging illegal smuggling.
He stressed the need for such initiative to be replicated in other regions of the country to have 100percent control over the natural resources in their domain, just exactly as it was now obtainable in North with the PAGMDI scheme.
“With the above, which is a clear reproduction of what the President said, it then begs the question as to why the Federal Government has not extended similar rush of gusto to the South South and other regions, seeing the speed at which PAGMDI has become operational in less than 10 months after it was set up?
“Now that the North is in control of its resources as established by PAGMDI, the South South and other regions with natural resources are entitled to control theirs too.
“The difference is very clear, what we have in the South is 13percent derivation revenue, whereas in the North with PAGMDI, it is 100percent derivation revenue. What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander,” the Rivers Lawmaker said.