Activist Calls For Balanced, Restructured Federation

A prominent activist in Niger Delta, His Highness Anabs Sara-Igbe, has called for balanced and restructured federation in which federating units would control their resources and pay tax to federal government.

His Highness Sara-Igbe, who is also the Coordinator of South-South Elders Forum, said in an interview that the Niger Delta region was calling for restructuring because it believes every part of the country has resources it can control.

The prominent activist and elder statesman said: “As of today, some people feel that they are holding sway and whatever they say is final. But nothing is final or permanent. The only thing that is permanent is change. So we are calling for a balanced and restructured federation where each region will control whatever it has and pay taxes to the federal government”.

He said that it was necessary for the government of the federation to declare those mining for gold in the North as illegal miners since they were not paying any royalty to the federal government.

He expressed disappointment that while those in the north could mine for gold and other resources, those in the South could not mine for oil and were being accused and jailed saying that those in the north and their governments should not mine natural resources and take all the money for themselves.

The activist said: “There are two sets of laws: the Petroleum Act and the Mining Act. While one set of law allows those who are doing mining to go there, mine and take the money all for themselves, the other law restricts the people from mining the oil found on their land and they cannot even go near it. Soldiers are (being) deployed to go after those asking or agitating for benefits and the people suffer the pollution (but) all kinds of mineral resources are being mined up North.

“They can declare them (as) illegal miners but nobody has ever been jailed for mining. Whereas in the South, those who are involved in petroleum have been accused, jailed or killed. (Those doing mining up north) are not authorized by the government and who are not paying any royalty to the government. The royalty goes to the villagers around them and their states. That is why today, Zamfara (State) can come and say (that) they have gold that they want to sell to the Central Bank of Nigeria for $5 billion”.

The elder statesman said that people in the South-South region should be allowed to explore the petroleum and then pay tax to the federal government.

“We cannot allow one region to mine what it has and prevent the other ones not to mine and whatever that is coming from there is for the entire country, but the other one is for itself. That cannot continue forever. We will not agree. So we are calling on the government to restructure so that there will be competition among the federating states and there will be devolution of power,” he said.

He also said that Nigeria should operate federalism as it should be operated.

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