Zamfara Gold

Who own Zamfara’s gold, the Federal government, the Zamfara State government or the 36 states of the Federation?

This is the question on everyone’s lip , and in some quarters where the tension is high, the popular saying is, “Niger Delta oil is for the nation, while Zamfara gold is for Zamfara”

Again we step on trouble waters, the nation Nigeria already has enough troubles on its end, however we are fast getting used to the culture of having new troubles and challenges springing up every now and then. It is more like we have succeeded in creating and sustaining a loose system, a broken wall that makes it easier for the lizards to come in, we have collectively cultivated an obnoxious and absurd culture that sees us leave our lawns unkempt, our greens soiled with weeds leading to the infestations of green snakes lurking beneath the grounds of our unkempt lawns waiting to strike the passersby.

Yet again, we lit a touch that has the potential of escalating into a nationwide wild fire, the discovery of the Zamfara gold is supposed to be an event of national celebration and one that is supposed to be of all round benefits to all within the Nigerian federating system.

To many, arguably, Zamfara over the years has been one of the most unproductive states among the 36 states of the federation and this is largely as a result of the activities of the dreaded religious extremist group, Boko Haram and other bandits groups who have made living unbearable for its inhabitants as a result of the kidnapping, killings and all sorts of violent activities going on in the area.

This is an area where a larger chunk of the nation’s wealth has been dedicated and channeled to the nation’s security outfits to restore order and normalcy. The nation’s wealth and resources which are derived from the sweats and toils of other states in the nation have all in one way or the other contributed to the restoration and rebuilding of the violence prone zone.

For Zamfara state to have discovered gold in its areas mined and refined them, it is a good news for not only the state and the people who have had to live in an area where there seems to be nothing good coming out of it, it is also a good news for the rest of the country as they see something to smile about come out from the area. The usual about the state when you open the various news dailies in the country is always the one that is always filled with gory sights of slain bodies, reports of kidnap among other unpalatable news.

While we agree that the Zamfara gold is indeed a welcome development for all within the Nigerian nation, it would be highly insensitive and reckless for the Zamfara state government to claim ownership of this natural resources which belongs to the nation’s exclusive list.

The constitution of the nation clearly states that all mineral resources as found within the 36 states of the federation belongs to the federal government, thus as a result of this, the actions of the Zamfara state government in claiming ownership of this resources is a gross violation of the Nigerian constitution.

While many governors from other regions have come to condemn the decision of the Zamfara state governments, coming out more as another surprise is the decision of the federal government of Nigeria to allow the Zamfara state governments manage the control of the resources.

This act raises more questions on the validity of the constitutional provision that makes it law that natural and mineral resources must be placed under the control of the federal government.

This singular act has a ripples effect on the nation’s national integration outlook, juxtaposing this with the case of the Niger Delta oil which is being firmly controlled by the Federal government who manages the proceeds gotten from it, determining how much goes back to the host state, this can be described as an unfair and imbalance situation which has the potential of causing more havoc.

For the sake of the national unity of the country in the light of its multi-ethnic outlook, and for the sake of the sustenance of the nation’s constitution, acts like this should be avoided at all cost as they can lead the nation to a state of unrest

Other federating states might be empowered by this to taking the move to getting control over its resources just as the Zamfara state government had done. And with the federal government looking the other way, allowing the Zamfara state government to gain control of it resources, other states in the federation might actually have a case. Imagine a situation whereby all the 36 states in the federation stands up to do something similar, there will be a state of violence and anarchy.

The federal government of Nigeria, as led by President Muhammadu Buhari must ensure that it treats all the states within the nation as one, without any iota of preferential treatment or favoritism towards any states or region. The rule of law as entrenched inside the confines of the nation’s constitution must be respected and strictly adhered to. The rules that applies to state A must also be made applicable to   state B. The Nigerian national outlook is indeed a fragile one and the federal government must be careful not to upset what is left of the balance.

The gold found in Zamfara belongs to everyone, just as the Crude oil in the Niger Delta Area, no state should be placed above the other in this arrangements, the federal government of Nigeria must ensure that it takes the much needed step in re-claiming the gold lest it set a bad precedent for other states to follow.

The unity of the Nigeria nation is non-negotiable and every factor that might militate against this must be avoided at all cost, the recent ENDSARS protest should have taught us all hard lessons about the need to kill a fire before it gets out of hand

Marcus Amudipe 

November 26, 2020

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