The Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, has faulted the claim that gold deposits in Zamfara belong to state and not the federal government.
Recently, the state governor, Bello Matawalle had disclosed that the state will supply gold to the CBN for N5 billion.
He said the gold, wholly mined and refined by the state’s artisanal miners, would come from the state’s gold reserve purchased over time.
Speaking on Wednesday during debate on the 2021 Appropriation Bill, Omo-Agege argued that mineral resources mined anywhere in the country and the proceeds from the sale belong to the federal government.
The Nigeria Minerals and Mining Act, 2007 vests the ownership of all minerals, including gold, in the Federal Government and prohibits unauthorised exploration or exploitation of minerals.
The Deputy Senate President urged the National Assembly to look into the issue of gold mining in Zamfara, saying this has become imperative especially at a time the government is exploring other sources of revenue to fund budget deficit.
Omo-Agege said “Mr. President, not too long ago, we saw the Governor of Zamfara State come before the CBN to present a gold bar worth close to about N5billion. The gold bar was presented for sale to the CBN.
“Mr. President, our people are beginning to wonder who owns this gold that is being sold to the CBN.
“They don’t sell oil in any of the Niger Delta states. I am wondering why a Governor of a state should be selling gold bar from Zamfara to the CBN. There are two problems with that.
“We believe that whatever revenue that ought to come from that transaction belong to the entire country and not belonging to the state government. That is number one and we should actually look into that.
“That is an area we really need to develop. There is a lot of revenue that could come from there that will take the burden from this international borrowings.”
Meanwhile, other Senators who spoke during the debate stressed the need for the federal government to be serious with diversifying its revenue sources, build infrastructure and cut down the cost of governance, which they said is consuming the large percent of the budget.