Illegal Mining: Time for FG to consider calls for restructuring — Onuesoke
Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, chieftain, Chief Sunny Onuesoke has said that it is time for the Federal Government as a matter of urgency consider the peoples’ call for the restructuring of Nigeria.
Onuesoke who spoke to newsmen in Port Harcourt, Rivers State during a solidarity visit to River State Governor, Nyesom Wike while reacting to information of Nigeria loosing over N353bn annually to illicit mining of gold and other solid minerals in Northern Nigeria, alleged that this disclosure has finally confirmed the belief that Niger Delta oil belongs to all, while solid mineral like gold and others belong to them alone.
He stated that If not for the killings in Zamfara State, nobody would have told Nigerians that some powerful personalities have been secretly mining the nation’s gold and enjoying the proceeds alone without bringing a dime to the table for sharing by all part of the country.
“It is amazing that within three years, according to the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Alhaji Bawa Bwari, 18 tonnes of gold frittered from the country are worth $1.16bn. At the official exchange rate of N305/$, this gives N353bn as the value of gold that illegal miners and smugglers shared without any impact on the country’s GDP,” he stated.
He said gold mined in Zamfara State, like oil in Niger Delta, is under the exclusive list of the Federal Government, stressing that it was rather not clear as to why oil revenue is controlled by the Federal Government and later shared as allocation to all part of the country, while gold mined in Zamfara is under the control of individuals who do not pay any returns as tax to the federal government.
Wondering how come the army never warned ‘illicit miners’ like they do with the “illegal” oil bunkerers in the Niger-Delta, Onuesoke alleged, “We have seen cases of where illegal bunkerers in Niger Delta are arrested, jailed and their property destroyed, But in the North, the illegal solid mineral miners seems to be untouchable.”
He said that it would have been better for the government to officially prospect for solid minerals in the North instead of wasting billions of dollars prospecting for oil in the North?
He noted that the only way out was for the Federal Government to set in motion the machinery for the restructuring of the country, adding that if that was done, the states will not bring out the economic potential in them, as they will keep waiting for allocation from the Federal Government.