A Bill seeking to grant resource control to states in the country has passed second reading on the floor of the House of Representatives.
The Bill, if passed into law would grant states control over minerals resources within their domain.
The Bill sponsored by Hon. Leo Ogor was titled, “A Bill for an Act to alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, to vest the control of the revenues derived from minerals, mineral oils, natural gas in, under or upon any land in the states of the federation and for other related matters.”
The Bill seeks to vest the control of revenues derived from mineral resources on the states where they are found.
Hon. Ogor, who led debate on the Bill, said if passed into law; it would give impetus to the quest of the government to diversify its economy, as states will focus on areas where they have comparative advantage.
The lawmaker noted that every state in the country is endowed with one natural resources or the other, adding that if these resources are well harnessed, it will make the states less dependent on the federal allocations.
He explained that the Bill will help the country function better as a federal state, if passed into law.
According to him, “we are confronted with a situation where states go cap in hand every month to Abuja for federal allocation.
“When states take up resources in their areas, it will lead to specialisation. The exclusive legislative list is overcrowded.”
In his contribution, Hon. Fredrick Agbedi, pointed out that the bill is long overdue, adding that if it is passed into law, it would help to enhance the economy of the country and then pull the nation out of recession.
He said: “We need to take practical steps to see that we end this recession. We will not be able to end the recession, if states continue to come to Abuja to collect money.”
Opposing the Bill, Hon. Sadiq Ibrahim (APC, Adawawa) raised a point of order, citing
order 13(3), adding that in line with the rule of the House; the matter ought to be debated until it has scaled through in the Constitution Amendment Committee.
The speaker of the House, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, who agreed with Sadiq’s argument, said, “I think Sadiq is right. We may just be wasting our time, if it does not scale through in the Constitution Amendment Committee.”
The Bill was, however, referred to the Special Ad-hoc Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution.
By Bethel Tunde