Federalism is the answer, after all – Part 48
In Statesman, Plato, the ancient Greek Philosopher noted that the state’s hegemony and stability lie in understanding and the force of the mind. This has been variously interpreted to mean reasoning and courage.
The fiscal autonomy aspect of the federalism discourse has unleashed some of these philosophical reflections in ways practical. Indeed, the arrogance of an over-bloated central authority is being chipped off by the force of the mind. Indeed, the awakening spawned by the Value Added Tax (VAT) through sheer interpretation of the letters and spirit of the constitution and the corresponding responses from those rattled in their comfort zones, speaks to Plato’s force of the mind.
While others desire the sustenance of the exploitative order, such the Katsina State Governor, Aminu Masari, others have resorted to appeal to draw the empathy of those on the winning side of the constitutional and logical struggle for fiscal justice.
The former would wish an imposition of VAT even on the transit of humans and goods through his state; the latter viewpoint is about being one’s brother’s keeper. Gombe State preferred an appeal to the southern governors to uphold the biblical ethic.
Inuwa Yahaya, governor of Gombe State, noted that if the emergent VAT regime held sway, his state would be in trouble with regard to its ability to pay salary. In his words, “if they are granted the opportunity to collect VAT, what are we going to do? …We must wake up to the reality on the ground.” Earlier, his commissioner of Finance and Economic Development, Muhammad Magaji, appealed to Lagos and Rivers governments to reconsider their resolution on the collection of VAT, urging them to heed the divine injunction of being one’s brother’s keepers. As he put it, “The VAT issue will have adverse effects not only on Gombe State but almost all the states of the federation. I was part of the discussion a few weeks ago by all commissioners of finance across the country… The realisation was that only Lagos, Rivers and probably Delta states would be able to pull through without this VAT being administered centrally, and it is our appeal that we all put sentiments behind and work towards a federation that is one, by being our brothers’ keepers and ensuring that what is pull together at the centre is distributed to be able to balance resources across the country… Don’t forget that the oil-producing states collect only 13 per cent derivation, so if you say every state will take whatever resources it has, it means we are starting a very dangerous trajectory that will not augur well for the federation called Nigeria.”
While the case may be raging in the judiciary, realism is that the federal authorities and the federating states in their present characterisation should wake to the imperative of financial autonomy. We firmly believe that every state of the extant state structure badly skewed as it has the window for financial fiefdom. There is hardly any state in Nigeria today that is not endowed with natural resources, which when exploited and developed would become a wealthy haven. We present in what follows a brief summary of the natural endowments of the states of the federation.
Abia has crude oil, limestone, coal, lead and zinc and other unexplored mineral deposits. Adamawa has gynapsum, dolomite, limestone, bauxite, a large deposit of gypsum at Guyuk. Akwa Ibom has crude oil (reserve). Anambra has crude oil (in reserve), kaolin, limestone and marble. Bauchi has limestone, columbite and iron-ore, crude oil (untapped). Benue has limestone, coal, clay and gypsum. Benue has limestone, clay and gypsum while Borno has Feldspar, limestone, kaolin, clay, potash, iron-Ore, natural salt, quartz, magnetite, diatomite, trona, mica, silica sand, gypsum, granite chips, flutters earth and uranium. Cross River has natural gas, limestone, clay, sand/gravel, salt, brines quartz/glass, gold, uranium, titanium. Delta is the second-largest producer of crude oil, gypsum lignitre, tar sands, marble, silica, sands, ball dolomite granite and gold. Edo limestone, marble, kaolin, dolomite and granite, glass, lead and gold, silica and oil. Enugu has the highest coal deposit in West Africa along with the ball and fine clay, limestone, silica, iron, ore, lead/zinc, kaolin barytes. Imo is endowed with limestone, lead/zinc, ore, kaolin, gypsum, lignite, clay shale, crude oil deposit. Jigawa has kaolin, copper, gold, silica, potash, tourmaline, iron ore. Kaduna has gold, gemstone, kaolin. Kano has kaolin, tin and copper. Katsina has graphite, marble, kaolin and silica. Kebbi has kaolin, salt, clay, limestone and gypsum. Kogi described as the museum of Nigeria, is the location of the confluence of Rivers Benue and Niger in Lokoja, a high profile tourist centre in Nigeria. Also, it has Limestone, clay, gold, crude oil, iron ore and gemstone.
Others like Kwara State has iron ore, marble, limestone, clay, dolomite and potash. Lagos, a state with the highest concentration of industries in Nigeria and West Africa, is equally endowed with silica and bitumen and laterite. Niger has glass and silicon, stone, gold, iron ore, limestone. Ondo has bitumen (tar sand), the second-largest deposit in the world, surpassed only by Canada. It has also crude oil, quartz limestone, kaoline, iron ore and columbite. Ogun State is gifted by providence with limestone, chalk, phosphate, clay, kaolin; its tar sand harbours the famous Olumo rock, a tourist asset. Osun has gold, clay, limestone and granite, good repository of culture and cultural artifacts. Oyo has dolomite, silimenite, kaolin and granite. Plateau has tin, iron ore, gemstone, coal, berytre, kaolin salt and zircon. Rivers is one of Nigeria’s largest producers of oil and has silica sand granite, and ball. Sokoto has gold, kaolin, gypsum, lignite, feldspar and limestone while Taraba has granite, bauxite, feldspar; a variety of gemstones, mica, pyrite, uranium lead/zinc, gelano, barytes, marble and clay. Besides, it harbours the famous Mambilla Plateau, c. 1830 meters above sea level. Yobe State has Gypsum, limestone, troma, clay, shale, kaolin and potash. Zamfara State has high reserves of solid minerals including gold, copper, zinc etc. By some estimate, the state is said to have over 60 per cent of total solid mineral deposits in the country (courtesy of Professor Mike Isokun, “Towards a Sustainable Development in Nigeria: The End and the Means”, The Constitution, Vol. 1, No. 4 June 2001).
The above endowments are complemented by sundry food and economic crops. The time has come to wean ourselves off the “feeding bottle federalism.” We make bold to say that all states of the federation must enlist into the struggle for restructuring so as to empower themselves to harness the resources within their domain, and perhaps, pay a royalty to a slimmer centre in a restructured Nigeria. It is the paved road to financial freedom. The twenty-first century is not for freebooters but for the creative and innovative. That is what is required of the governing elite in Nigeria, without primitive accumulation and misappropriation and mismanagement of our national resources. It is time to build. It is the promise of genuine federalism.