By Precious Akutamadu
Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike on Monday urged the federal government to allow states to develop and mine their respective minerals and to pay royalties to the central government.
Wike made the call when Mr. Uchechukwu Ogah, Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, paid him a courtesy call at Government House in Port Harcourt.
He said the appeal became relevant because the federal government which unilaterally controls the country’s rich mineral endowment has failed to translate the mineral wealth into overall economic development.
The Governor argued that in order for the country to benefit from its vast mining endowment, the federal government should focus on formulating policies that will facilitate improved governance of the mining sector in order to improve the social well-being of citizens.
“The federal government carries so much load that it’s not supposed to carry, allow states to develop these minerals and pay royalties to the federal government, that’s the way it’s supposed to be,” Wike said.
He urged the minister to push for reforms that will allow states and local governments to take charge of extracting solid minerals in their areas and then pay taxes to the federal government.
“It’s very important for people to know that part of the problem in this country is that everyone is dependent on oil, when we are supposed to be looking at other minerals as well.
“Minerals play a big role in terms of increasing income for any country, so our excessive emphasis on petroleum has reduced our impact on other minerals.”
Wike noted that “if the country fully exploits the Zamfara gold deposit as well as other minerals in other states of the federation, the country will derive a lot of income from these minerals which can accelerate development.
Wike lamented that despite the possibility that the Ajaokuta Steel Company project would generate huge revenues for the country and create as many as 3,000 jobs, the federal government, for political reasons, failed to fulfill the country’s aspiration. to become a major player in global steel. industry.
He said the Rivers State government is ready to work with the federal government to develop the country’s mining sector.
Wike advised the federal government to avoid “playing politics with issues of economic development” and to strive to consolidate the ideals of good governance in the country.
In response, the minister told the governor that he was in the state to share with him the federal government’s vision and policy direction for the development of the country’s solid mineral resources.
Ogah said his visit was aimed at soliciting the state government’s support and partnership to ensure the orderly and efficient exploitation of the huge deposits of silica sand, glass sand and clay that lie in the condition for construction and manufacture of glass.
“In addition, let me also remind you of the abundant sea salt that has yet to be mined in rivers as a state bordering the Atlantic Ocean, which could also be an interesting area for collaborative development. “Ogah said.
He commended the governor for the unparalleled successes his administration has achieved in matching actions with mission statements to actualize the aspirations of the right people in Rivers State for balanced development and an improved quality of life for them. present and future generations through responsive governance guided by the Fear of God.
“Your administration has accomplished its mission as evidenced by massive infrastructure, cultural integration, provision of essential social amenities and many other legacy projects for the prosperity of the people of Rivers State and Nigerians living and making business in the state, ”he said.
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