By Ephraim Oseji
Following recent decision of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to pay N5 billion to Zamfara State government for the sale of gold to the apex bank, a Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, chieftain and former Delta State governorship aspirant, Chief Sunny Onuesoke, has asked the apex bank to extend the same gesture to Niger-Delta by equally allowing the people to sell their oil to the Federal Government.
Onuesoke in a statement, yesterday, argued that he had to make the demand because the recent sale of gold bars from gold mined in Zamfara to the CBN for N5 million by the Zamfara State government was in flagrant violation of Sections 1 and 2 of Nigerian Mineral and Mining Act 2007, which vests the Federal Government with ownership of all the mineral resources in Nigeria.
He alleged that the transaction between CBN and Zamfara State government suggests that 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, applied only to Niger Delta.
“I am saying this because Zamfara gold was mined by illegal miners, whose trade has now been legitimised, while illegal refiners in Niger Delta are hunted, arrested, prosecuted with their property destroyed. Meanwhile, the Federal Government is yet to fulfill its promise to re-organise and legitimise the activities of illegal refineries in Niger Delta.”
“My thought is that If the oil in Edo, Delta, River and the rest were originally found in Zamfara, Kano, Gombe and the rest of northern state, I am afraid by this time there won’t be anything Nigeria,” he noted.
He said it was a cheat that the Niger Delta has continued to shoulder the huge burden of the Nigerian State by sharing the wealth of the region with every part of the country, while the North has continued to enjoy its huge solid mineral deposits alone.
“Gold, diamond and other precious stones found in large quantities in the North are owned, enjoyed and utilized by northerners. Oil and gas fields ancestral to Niger Deltans are shared by all Nigerians. How long are we going to sustain this corrupt and unjust system?
“To resolve the issue, we demanded that those in the Niger Delta region and other parts of the country should equally be allowed to mine and sell their natural resources themselves as Zamfara State government did with CBN. This could only be achieved by restructuring of the country into six geopolitical structure with autonomous powers to manage their lives, affairs, resources, security and governance.”