by Usman Alabi
A bill on Resource control passed through second reading on Wednesday in the House of Representatives.
The bill seeks to grant the control of revenues derived from mineral resources domiciled in the states to their various governments.
Nigeria is long overdue for this, and one cannot say for sure whether the legislators are sincere in their call for this.
The bill 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, sponsored by the minority leader, Leo Ogor (PDP-Delta), was unanimously adopted by members through a voice vote.
Ogor in his debate said the bill if passed into law, would give impetus to the quest to diversify the economy, as states would focus on areas of comparative advantage.
According to Mr. Ogor, if the bill is passed into law, it would help the country function better as a federation.
“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 specialization. The exclusive legislative list is overcrowded,” Ogor said
Fredrick Agbedi (PDP-Bayaelsa) who was also in support of the bill said it was long overdue.
“If it is passed into law, it would help to enhance the economy of the country and 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.”
However, Sadiq Ibrahim (APC-Adamawa), citing order 13 (3), argued that according to the provisions of the House standing orders and rules, the bill should not have been debated until it had passed through the Constitutional Review Committee.
The speaker, Yakubu Dogara, who presided at the sitting, sustained Mr. Ibrahim’s argument, saying: “I think Sadiq is right.
“We may just be wasting our time, if it does not scale through in the constitution amendment committee.”
Consequently, the bill was referred to the House Special Ad-hoc Committee on the review of the 1999 constitution headed by the Deputy Speaker Yusuf Lasun.
One wonders if the Legislators know the enormity and the sensitivity of this bill. It is very strategic and important if we are to achieve fiscal and true federalism.
We would continue to track this bill and give you updates as events unfold.
However, do you think the legislators would sincerely pass this bill, do you think the bill can put an end to the problems of Nigeria’s federalism. Let us have your take on this.