Port Harcourt — Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, has advocated that the federating units in the country, should be allowed to develop and operate their respective mineral resources and pay royalty to the federal government.
The governor said this has become pertinent because the federal government which unilaterally controls the country rich mineral endowment, has failed to translate the mineral wealth into overall economic development.
Governor Wike made this assertion when the Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Uchechukwu Ogah, paid courtesy call at the Government House, Port Harcourt.
The governor, maintained that in order for the country to benefit from its vast mineral endowment, the federal government should concentrate on formulation of policies that will facilitate an improvement in the governance of the mining sector to improve social welfare of the citizens.
“The federal government is carrying so much load that they are not supposed to carry. Allow states to develop these minerals and pay royalty to the federal government. That is the way it’s supposed to be.”
He urged the Minister to push for reforms that will enable States and Local governments take charge of mining of solid minerals in their domain and then pay tax to the federal government.
“It is very important for people to know that part of the problem in this country is that everybody is depending on oil, when we are also supposed to look at other minerals. Minerals play a great role in terms of raising revenue for any country. So, our overemphasis on oil has reduced our impact on other minerals.”
He noted that if the country fully harness the gold deposit in Zamfara, as well as other minerals in other states of the federation, the country will make a lot of revenue from these minerals that can accelerate her development.
Governor Wike lamented that despite the possibility of the Ajaokuta Steel Company generating huge revenues for the country and creating not less than 3,000 jobs, the federal government for political reasons, has failed to actualise the country’s aspiration to become a major player in the global steel industry.
The governor declared that the Rivers State government is prepared to collaborate with the federal government to develop the mineral sector of the country.
He advised the federal government to shun playing politics with issues of economic development and strive entrench the ideals of good governance in the country.