A monitoring team from the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) is in Bayelsa State to verify number of mining companies and leases issued to them and see to increase in revenue.
The team, which will also consider the revenue generation potential in solid mineral exploration, says the profiling is necessary as part of attempts to check the economic challenges facing the oil-rich nation.
They believe the economic recession the nation is facing was triggered by too much dependence on crude oil sales for revenue.
The members of the RMAFAC have therefore been mandated to search for the next big mineral discovery in Nigeria, beginning with Bayelsa State.
At a meeting with the RMAFAC, the Deputy Governor of the state, Rear Admiral John Jonah (rtd), who was pleased with the reasons for their visit, was optimistic that both the Federal and the State government would benefit from any success made.
Rear Admiral Jonah requested that the ream should do a thorough job, expressing confidence that the exercise, if properly conducted, would open a vista of opportunities to all the state governments to discover and harness alternative sources of revenue.
While expressing belief that every state is endowed with mineral resources, he said:
“The current economic recession is worsened by the long period of over-dependence on revenues accruing from the oil sector and the lack of political will to explore and exploit other natural endowments, including agriculture to boost the nation’s economy”.
He assured the team of the state’s support and urged them to engage the appropriate government ministries, agencies and departments, as well as other stakeholders in the course of the exercise.
“Identifying alternative potentialities of the state and possible means to harnessing such resources, in line with the present administration’s policy of economic diversification,” he told the team.
“Yes, it is true that Bayelsa State isn’t doing well in the non-oil sector. So they (RMAFC), are going to carry out an audit of what we have because some of the non-oil mineral resources they have in mind may be here and we may not be aware.
“At the federal level, the government is trying to get a consultant to work it out for the entire country.
“I’m firmly of the belief that there is no land in Nigeria that has no minerals. It depends on how you maximise the exploitation of it. So, at the end of this exercise, the team will tell us know what we have and how we can get it out from the soil.
“Just like the Federal Government, we also have interest in taxes. We have common interest, so we will certainly benefit from the exercise. But the extent of benefit is what I will not be able to define now,” he added.
The Bayelsa State Government further described the ongoing nationwide monitoring exercise embarked upon by the RMAFC, as a step in the right direction.
The leader of the visiting team, who is a Commissioner at the commission, Mr Sanyon Omiri, told reporters that Bayelsa State got a paltry 1.2 million Naira as its share of 13% derivation from the non-oil sector.
He said that the state currently occupies the 36th position on the table of non-oil remittance to the Federation Account, as at June this year.
“We believe that at the end of our investigations we will discover a lot of minerals in Bayelsa State that can be tapped for economic benefit,” Mr Omiri stated.
He also noted that, the state could move up in its position and increase its share of the 13% derivation from non-oil revenue, if all leakages were plugged and illegal miners captured into the tax net.