AKWA Ibom State delegates have insisted that states must be made to control their resources and remit an agreed percentage of taxes to the Federal Government as a means of stimulating national development.
The state’s position, which has been handed over to the National Conference, is contained in a document released by the Head of the Akwa Ibom State Secretariat, Mr. Udeme Nana, and made available to Vanguard, last night.
The delegates argued that contrary to the impressions being held by antagonists, the control of resources by states did not amount to mineral-producing states keeping back 100 percent of their revenue but prompt remittance of what the constitution stipulates.
Defending states’ participation and control of their resources, the delegates pointed out that it was the only way of identifying and exploiting available resources in each state of the federation for national growth.
“Participation by state governments will provide a level playing field for indigenes of mineral-bearing states to have stakes in companies operating in their areas and stem the tide of oil theft and smuggling,” they argued.
“It will also reduce to the barest minimum the problems of militancy and economic terrorism and encourage the exploitation of the untapped mineral resources in the northern part of the country.”
According to the delegates, the value of solid minerals buried in the northern states of Kaduna, Bauchi, Adamawa, Taraba, Benue, Plateau, Kogi and Nasarawa far exceed whatever is derived from oil, saying that exploitation will make them earn derivation revenue.
The delegates noted “it is imperative on the grounds of fairness and equity, historical antecedents and prevailing practices that fiscal federalism and resource control/participation by states must be restored in the Nigerian constitution.”
“The demand for states’ participation/resource control should not be seen as revolving around petroleum resources alone. This will promote peaceful co-existence, unity, productivity and employment and serve to reduce tension in Nigeria, the delegates said.
The delegates argued that 20 years after the 1994 National Conference, which gave rise to the implementation of the 13 percent derivation principle, it had become imperative to increase the derivation upwards but did not say by how much.
However, Nana said in a telephone interview with Vanguard that an increase from the current 13 percent to at last 50 percent would be acceptable to the oil-bearing states of Nigeria.