Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has accused the Federal Government of failing to translate the country’s vast mineral wealth into economic development for the benefit of Nigerians.
He insisted that for Nigeria to benefit from its vast mineral resources, the Federal Government should concentrate on formulation of policies that would facilitate improvement in governance of the mining sector to improve the welfare of citizens.
He, therefore, canvassed that the federating units should be allowed to explore their minerals and pay royalties to the Federal Government.
Wike said this had become pertinent because the Federal Government, which controls the country’s rich mineral endowments, had failed to utilise them effectively.
Governor Wike stated this, yesterday, when the Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Uchechukwu Ogah, visited him at the Government House, Port Harcourt.
“The Federal Government is carrying so much load that it was not supposed to carry. The states should be allowed to develop their minerals resources and pay royalties to the central government. That is how it is supposed to be,” he said.
He urged the minister to push for reforms that would enable states and councils to control the mining of solid minerals in their domains and pay taxes to the Federal Government.
“It is important for people to know that part of the problem in this country is that everybody depends on oil, when we are also supposed to explore other minerals. Minerals play important roles in raising revenues for any country. So, our overemphasis on oil has reduced our impact on other minerals,” he added.
Speaking further, he noted that if the country fully harnessed the gold deposit in Zamfara State and other minerals in other states of the federation, the country would derive a lot of revenue from the minerals and that could accelerate development.
Governor Wike lamented that despite the possibility of the Ajaokuta Steel Company project generating huge revenues for the country and creating thousands of jobs, the Federal Government had failed to actualise the country’s aspiration to become a major player in the global steel industry for political reasons.
He declared that the Rivers State Government was prepared to collaborate with the Federal Government to develop the country’s huge mineral resources.
Responding, Ogah said he visited the state to share Federal Government’s vision and policy focus for the development of the nation’s solid mineral resources.
He added that his visit was to solicit for support and partnership of the of Rivers State Government in ensuring the orderly and efficient exploitation of huge deposits of silica sand, glass sand and clay in the state for construction purposes and glass manufacturing.