Omo-Agege conveys Niger-Delta reservation over Zamfara, CBN gold bar deal
• calls for better road infrastructure to calm Niger Delta agitators • as Lawan assures of APC government will improve on road in infrastructure
Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege has conveyed the reservation of the Niger-Delta region to the Senate over what is considered a breach by Zamfara state government on converting national revenue asset to state-owned property.
Omo-Age who said this on the floor of the Senate on Wednesday while speaking in favour of the passage of the 2021 budget proposal said gold deposit by law remains a national resource and should be treated as such.
According to him, the Niger-Delta people are worried over the dwindling revenue source of the country and wonder why the federal government would not diversify and harness solid minerals sector to shore up revenue sources for the 2021 fiscal year but leave a state to mine and offer for sale gold bar worth N5bn to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for sale.
The Deputy President of the Senate had argued that the 2021 budget proposal is largely dependent on oil and borrowing to fund it and the borrowing component can be drastically reduced by seeking to boost revenue sources through tapping into the explorable gold and other solid minerals to fund the nation’s 2021 budget.
Omo-Agege presented his argument this way: “There is also something that is troubling our people and I thought I should bring it in here.
“It is clear that the only two sources identified in the budget are the revenue from oil for the most part and borrowing both local and foreign but Mr. president we also have other potentials sources of revenue that have not been looked at and we keep talking about leakages every time.
“For instance why do we talk about leakages when we can hook directly to the solid minerals sector. Not too long ago we saw a governor came to the central bank with a gold bar worth N5bn being presented for sale
“That is agitating our people because they are beginning to wonder on who owns this gold that is being sold to the CBN, they do not sell oil in Delta State or any of the Niger Delta States.
“So they are wondering why any state will be selling gold bar harvested from the state resource to the CBN.
“There are two problems there, Mr President, we in the Niger-Delta believe that whatever revenue that ought to come from that transaction belongs to the entire nation and we should actually look into that because it does not belong to the state government
“These are areas that we really need to develop because there is a lot of revenue that could come from there to take the burden off these international borrowing.
The Senator representing Delta Central also lamented the deplorable condition of the road to the extent that the 92km road between Warri and Benin that is usually covered in two hours drive has now become 6 hours owing to bad roads.
He said the federal government should act to reduce tension in the land especially among agitators who face and suffer these challenges on a daily basis while they ply the routes.
He said this is important especially as the tough economic reality has already placed so much burden on the people.
“I spoke to the Minister of works on the condition of roads and he laid the blame on the national assembly saying that the new budget style does not accommodate contingency.
“Mr President we can understand that here but the people in the streets, in Edo, in Delta do not understand that.
“It is bad enough that the economy is in the state it is right now but we also need at least to maintain the infrastructure we have right now. So that our people will cease to agitate, he submitted.
Responding to his view and other Senators who spoke on the bad condition of the road in the South-South region the President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan assured Niger-Delta s and Nigerians that the ruling All Progressives Congress-led federal government will make an impact in road infrastructure.
According to him, evidence of the determination of the federal government to project a new narrative on road construction is visible in the level of works going in on the second Niger bridge.
He said the same visible level of work will be on the second Niger bridge was would permeate other roads across the country.
Lawan said “Now you can see the hand of the Federal government in the construction of the second Niger Bridge. Now you can attest to the fact on the way the Second Niger Bridge is going, is the way all the roads in the country will be treated.
“I want to assure you that the government will definitely come back to those roads since the contracts on those roads have been awarded. I think the major things have been done.
“We will continue to push especially in the South-South so that the people of the South-south will see the benefit of having this administration or the party in government that at least we are keeping to our promises,” President of the Senate stated.
Earlier in their debate, Senator Bassey Albert (PDP) representing Akwa Ibom South and Senator Gershom Bassey representing Cris Rivers South Senatorial District called on the Senate to look into the budget and ensure that the Calabar – Itu road is funded as it has cut off south-east and the North from being accessed from that road.