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FG controls Niger-Delta oil but permits Zamfara to manage its gold: Governor Okowa

The Delta governor slams the Nigerian government’s action as discriminatory.

• November 12, 2020
Ifeanyi Okowa
Delta State governor Ifeanyi Okowa (Credit:Twitter)

Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has 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.

The Delta governor, who chairs the South-South Governors’ Forum, noted at a quarterly interaction with journalists in Asaba yesterday that resource control and devolution of powers had become necessary in lieu of the development.

“The South-South governors have been in the forefront for the devolution of power to states and local governments,” Mr. Okowa was reported as saying by The Southern Examiner. “Restructuring, resource control and security of the country, especially in the Niger Delta will be a major topic of discussion at the presidential parley coming up in Port Harcourt.”

“We cannot apply laws in such a manner that it becomes discriminatory because you cannot mine solid minerals somewhere in Zamfara and you can’t allow Niger Delta to manage their oil,” Mr. Okowa said.

Zamfara authorities appeared to have devised modalities for extraction of the state’s gold deposits following the establishment of a gold reserve in October.

Governor Bello Matawalle told journalists at the flag-off of the project that the novel gold reserve, which commenced operation with 31 kilogrammes of processed gold, was part of his administration’s efforts to diversify the state’s economy.

“My administration will subsequently continue to buy gold from our local miners so as to gradually improve the reserve”, Mr. Matawalle reportedly said.

“The establishment of the gold reserve, therefore, is part of the relentless efforts by my administration to diversify the state’s economy by exploring all potentials of the state and maximally utilizing them for the benefit of both the present and future generations”, the governor stated.

The Zamfara government had also widely publicised the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative (PAGMI), wherein the state would sell its gold directly to the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Mines and steel minister Olamilekan Adegbite said that all mineral deposits in the country are controlled by the Federal Government, and corporate bodies, as well as the state and local governments, are empowered to buy mineral products when licensed to do so.

“And that is the angle that Zamfara State is exploiting. From their own funds, they are buying gold from their people. It is not as if they are cornering the resources that belong to the Federal Government”, the minister said during a press briefing to mark the just concluded 5th Nigerian Mining Week.

“I had to have a meeting with him (Mr. Matawalle) because the way the governor is portraying it is that the Zamfara gold belongs to the Zamfara government. It does not. All mineral resources in this country are vested in the Federal Government,” the minister said.

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