Constitution preventing states from exploring minerals - Ahmed
The Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, has said Nigeria's constitution is an impediment to state governments in Nigeria to mine and explore mineral deposits in their respective states.
He stated that this development had inhibited the states from increasing their internally-generated revenue and creating employment opportunities through the development and harnessing of solid minerals in their areas.
The governor, who was represented by the Commissioner for Education and Human Capital Development, Alhaji Musa Yeketi, spoke in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, during the installation of Prof. Silas Dada as the 29th President of the Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Society on Sunday.
He explained that Section 44 (3) of the 1999 Constitution vested the Federal Government with the ownership and control of all minerals, oils and natural gas in Nigeria.
He added that the Second Schedule, Part 1, Item 39 of the Exclusive List in the 1999 Constitution restricted state governments from developing their respective mining potential.
Ahmed said, "The availability of solid minerals in Nigeria presents state governments with the opportunity to increase their internally-generated revenue for themselves, reduce dependence on FG’s (revenue) allocation and create employment for our teeming youth population. However, the constitution appears to hobble this possibility.
"This creates a situation whereby states have limited authority over mining activities in their domain and are often required to purchase expensive licences from the Federal Government with no guarantee of returns or successful exploitation of mineral resources."
But Dada said the FG was now willing to encourage active participation of state governments in exploration and mining activities if the state governments were willing.
He said, "Nothing stops any state in Nigeria now from forming a private company, joining with that private company and mining.
"The problem we have in the state is because government is at the back of it, accountability is an issue. But if you do it like a business, you allow the private sector to do it as business and make profit, then there will not be a problem."
Dada said Nigeria's abundant natural resources should not be a curse to the nation. He stated that though Nigeria had a large deposit of oil, if properly managed, solid mineral resources-driven development is the best growth opportunity for the country.
He urged the Federal Government to get the Natural Resources Management policy chain right.
He stated that the NRM policy chain should be adequately developed by setting up strong policies in every area of income generation and investment.