The federal government has cautioned the Zamfara state government over making impressions of owning gold deposits in the state.
Olamilekan Adegbite, minister of mines and steel development, who issued the warning on Friday, said mineral products remain exclusively that of the federal government.
Zamfara government on Tuesday said it started its gold reserve to reduce dependence on federal allocations.
Rabiu Garba, the state commissioner for finance, told journalists that, though, there was a federal government ban on mining activities in the country, “the state government was able to purchase the commodity from licensed miners”.
“At the moment, we have a pure gold reserve of over 30 kilos and as time goes by, we will continue to invest in this regard so that, like other states and other nations, we will be having our mineral reserves and ours will be in gold,” Garba said.
“When the ban is lifted and mining activities resume fully, we are hopeful that we will be receiving royalties from miners while the federal government will also be giving us something.”
Joseph Onu Silas, a lawyer, had accused the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) of trading in gold with the state government, seeking the cancellation of the purchase of gold worth N5 billion from Zamfara by the apex bank.
But while briefing the press on the forthcoming 5th Nigerian mining week, Adegbite said what the state government is doing is right but the portrayal to the public is wrong.
“I had a meeting with the Zamfara people yesterday or day before yesterday, they need to get their narrative right to the public,” Adegbite said
We have what we call private mineral buying centres, we issue licences, in fact, anybody that is interested should come to us and once you meet the criteria, we give you a licence to purchase the mineral and that is the angle the Zamfara Government is exploiting.
“From their own fund, they are buying gold from their people and I spoke with the governor, you need to explain these to the people properly. It’s not as if they are cornering the resources that belongs to the federal government.
“All mineral resources in country is vested in the federal government and that is in the exclusive list and that stays. And the right royalty should be paid to the federal government.
“People feel that some parts of the nation are cornering the wealth of the nation to themselves which belongs to all of us and I will always say this, everybody has partake in the lunch of the Niger Delta’s people, we have taken from the oil and gas and it has been used to develop this country and the mineral wealth of this country will also be used collectively to develop this country and not exclusively by one section.”
The state government has denied the allegations against it.
Zailani Baffa, spokesperson to Bello Matawalle, the state governor, said the state government is not directly mining the gold by itself.
“It will rather purchase the gold from the mining companies registered by the Federal Government in the state,” Baffa said in a statement.
He also said the CBN did not enter into any trade agreement with the state government as claimed by the lawyer.
“The fact is that the CBN, just like in agriculture, is willing to invest in mining, as part of its Anchor Borrowers’ Programme whereby the apex bank will invest an amount for the state government to supply it with the gold as proceeds of the investment,” he said.
“This is aimed at boosting the mining sector in the country which is within the provisions of the scheme.”