Co-Chairmen of the National Conference Committee on Devolution of Power, Obong Victor Attah and Alhaji Ibrahim Coomasie, have called for accelerated tapping of the natural resources across the country.
The co-chairmen, who spoke in Abuja on Thursday, during the sitting of the committee, stated that there was the need for the other mineral resources to enjoy similar attention given to oil by government and other stakeholders.
Attah, who is also a former governor of Akwa Ibom State, said doing this will reduce the acrimony usually associated with discussions on fiscal responsibility as it concerns resource control and revenue sharing.
Attah on a number of occasions on Thursday called members of his committee to order, as emotions almost took over discussions on the contentious issue with delegates sharply divided along North versus South.
He said as the co-chairman of the committee, he would do his best to be impartial in decision-making, but it would be impossible for him to pretend he is not from the South-south geo-political zone where agitation for the control of oil
resources is high.
He cautioned against attempt by anybody to reopen the issue of reintroducing the on-shore off-shore dichotomy or any dichotomy between naturally occurring and man-made resources, urging that ?let us think instead of how to ramp up the derivation percentage over time, remembering that it used to stand at 50%.?
Attah also asked the committee to examine how to make remedial measures to reclaim polluted lands and waters and how to stop further degradation in oil producing communities of the south-south.
At the national level, he said ?we have to look at how to assist all other parts of this country to develop their inert potentials and resources.
This is the direction in which I thought the discussions were leading us. If we follow that way, we would, by consensus, have
practicalised the true concept of being our brother?s keeper which does not suggest the inequitable pattern of you bring, we share, but rather, the one that says I bring, you bring, together we grow.?
The co-chairman drew attention to the fact that oil will one day finish in the Niger Delta and that the craze to share oil revenue has not allowed anybody to consider what will happen to the impoverished oil producing communities when the wells dry up.
?Let me say that the people of the Niger Delta are very conscious of this and, indeed, this has been their greatest fear. Time will come when the oil will dry up completely, then what will happen to the people of the Niger Delta? No farmland and no fishing in the polluted waters,? he said.
The former governor said available information indicates availability of oil in the north, recalling that it was not quite long ago when gas emissions were confirmed in Kiru in Kano State. He also noted that rich deposits of limestone, high quality gold and uranium abound in the north, adding that it was scandalous that this was not being tapped.