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Resource control resonates as Omo-Agege faults FG on Zamfara gold bar

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A veiled reference was made to resource control yesterday, as Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege, faulted Zamfara State Governor, Bello Matawalle on the sale of the gold bar to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), describing it as a ‘breach of the constitution.’

Omo-Agege, who stated this while contributing to a debate on the general principles of the 2021 Appropriation Bill, noted that it was wrong for the Federal Government to allow Zamfara State to sell the gold bar to the CBN for N5b against constitutional provisions.

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Although he did not cite specific provisions of the constitution, item 39 of the exclusive legislative list stated: “Mines and Minerals including oil fields, oil mining, geological surveys, and natural gas are exclusively under Federal Government’s control.”

Also, the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act 2007, which was passed into law on March 16, 2007, to repeal the Minerals and Mining Act No. 34 of 1999 for regulating the exploration and exploitation of solid materials vested control of all property and minerals in the state and prohibited unauthorised exploration of minerals.

Omo-Agege, who is Chairman, Senate Committee on Constitution Review, drew the Senate’s attention to the fact that revenues from oil resources in the Niger Delta had always gone to the Federation Account.

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“Recently, Governor Metawalle presented a gold bar for sale worth about N5b to the CBN. Our people are beginning to wonder who owns the gold being sold to the CBN. They don’t sell the oil in the Niger Delta states and I am wondering why a governor should sell the gold bar to the CBN,” he said.

He noted that revenue from that transaction would have accrued to the entire country instead of the state government and urged the Senate to review the deal, pointing out that it would help the country to develop faster.

Omo-Agege further made a case for the Federal Government to improve infrastructure and pay greater attention to the Niger Delta economy, particularly in unemployment and poverty reduction.

He lamented that infrastructure in the Niger Delta region was in a serious state of decay, saying, “As we speak, major roads connecting Delta State to Edo State have been cut off.

“It is so bad that a journey that normally takes about 40 minutes from Warri to Benin, now takes about six hours. How do we explain this? We can safely conclude that we have failed our people because there is no justification for a 40 minutes journey to last six hours,” he said.

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CBNOvie Omo-AgegeSenate
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