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PDP chieftain flays FG over resource control, sharing formula

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By Lawrence Nwimo

The candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2017 Anambra governorship election, Mr. Oseloka Henry Obaze, has taken a swipe at the Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government for its alleged lopsided policies and handling of the country’s natural resources.

Obaze, a retired diplomat and member of the PDP presidential campaign team during the 2019 general election, made the remarks while reacting to reports that Zamfara’s gold mineral was considered a state resource while federal government continues to control oil and gas resources from southern Nigeria.

Delivering the lecture titled “If the Dead Could Speak, What Would Chinua Achebe Say of Present-Day Nigeria?” during the 5th Literary Festival and maiden memorial lecture organised by The Society of Young Nigerian Writers at the Prof. Kenneth Dike Central e-Library, Awka Anambra State, Obaze argued that allowing northern states to control their mineral resources amounts to marginalisation of southern states whose resources, according to him, have been used to sustain the economy.

“While government seeks to rein in the social media, it overlooks its own limitations arising from doublespeak, preferential and discriminating policies and lack of transparency in managing the nations natural resources. We should interrogate rigorously, why oil-liquid mineral found in Bayelsa is deemed a common wealth and subject to 13 percent derivation; but gold, a solid mineral found in Zamfara, is considered state asset.

“Social justice and equity are the grand norms of democracy and if you make a law and say that all minerals are owned by the federal government and that states that have minerals (are) to get 13 percent derivation, then it should be across board. There is no need for us to be forced to debate whether gold is a mineral. It is a mineral just like oil is a liquid mineral. And wherever you find them, they belong to the federal government.

Obaze also accused the federal government of violating the 13 per cent Derivation Act and called for the issue to be addressed without delay. “In spite of the express provisions of the constitution for the management and disbursement of 13 per cent derivatives to minerals producing states, those entrusted with the responsibility have not ensured equality in the implementation of the Derivation Act”

“The state from where they are found gets 13 percent. Then the rest of the revenue should go to the federal government. So, when you have a dichotomy of certain minerals now being sold by the state to the Central Bank and keeping the money is raising fundamental question as to how you treat other states.”

Obaze also blamed bad leadership for the lingering political and economic crisis that has brought the country to its knees and at crossroads.

“Our democracy is under assault by some of those charged to protect it; including some who are primary beneficiaries of our commonwealth, since they have been elected or appointed into democratic offices. By not fostering good governance, these presumed leaders delegitimized our democracy.

“Today there is a troubling disconnect in our nation; between the rulers and the ruled. We have great inequality in Nigeria. Increasingly, there is a wide chasm in emoluments and benefits between elected officials and employees in the public and organized public sectors. Such dichotomies are unacceptable, and are best understood in the context of the lingering strike of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

“As the ASUU strike lingers, our leaders are manifestly indifferent. And we pretend we have a nation.  We seem to forget that when the government and ASUU are at an impasse; it is the Nigerian youth and students that suffer.

He described the fallout of the recent #EndSARS protest that rocked the nation as a wakeup call for the government. According to him, the “#EndSARS protest was a mirror into the warped and tortured soul of our nation. It unearthed the deep-seated discontent and the grave dangers posed by indifference, levity and neglect.

He warned: “While the strain may seem not so concerted, that gale force is cascading with turbulent convergent speed.  No one can tell the breaking point or moment when the tornado will touch ground, but the ominous signs and dark clouds are all too evident. Nigeria today, is an unravelling nation.

On the way forward, Obaze said: “We need to rethink how and whom we elect to public offices”.

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