The Taraba State Governor, Darius Dickson Ishaku, has called on the Federal Government to speed up oil exploration in the north east region of the country in order to help enhance and diversify the country’s economy.
The Governor made the appeal on Tuesday, at the 5th meeting of the North East Governors’ Forum Held at the Government House in the state capital, Jalingo.
“I am delighted that oil has been discovered in the North East, notably in the Bauchi-Gombe axis and in Taraba State, but ours has both oil and gas. In the same line, I urge the federal government to expand and expedite exploration in the Chad basin, as well as the Benue trough, which, according to geological reports, is rich in oil and gas,” Governor Ishaku said.
“As a result of the 13 per cent derivation principle enjoyed by oil-producing States, we anticipate that early exploitation of petroleum resources in the North-East region will increase our revenue profile.
“Similarly, the North-East states are rich in solid mineral reserves that are yet to be exploited. Solid mineral has a stable price on the international market, unlike crude oil and can help enhance and diversify the country’s economy”.
While calling on the Federal Government to work with State Governments to develop their mineral resources, Governor Ishaku also recommended that the Forum push for the removal of the exploration and exploitation of mineral resources from the exclusive list to the concurrent list.
The meeting also touched on other matters such as insurgence, agriculture, road projects, among others.
Read the full details of the meeting below.
Keynote Address Of His Excellency, The Executive Governor Of Taraba State, Architect Darius Dickson Ishaku At The 5th Meeting Of North East Governors’ Forum Held At The Government House, Jalingo On 6th And 7th July, 2021
I warmly welcome my dear Governors of Borno, Adamawa, Gombe, Yobe, and Bauchi States to Taraba State, (Nature’s Gift to the nation). Given the importance of this gathering to the overall well-being of our region, and indeed the federation, your arrival has been eagerly awaited.
Important as this meeting is, I will still invite your Excellencies to take advantage of the hospitality of our people and the congenial atmosphere while spending a few days in Jalingo, the State capital.
Your Excellencies, it is encouraging that the North East Governors Forum has established itself as a powerful voice in the Nigerian political arena; however, we must continue to make conscious and deliberate efforts to keep our unique concerns at the forefront of national debate to achieve the desired recognition.
Indeed, our affinity as a geopolitical zone precedes Nigeria’s merger, and subsequent post-independence political and administrative fragmentations have not affected who we are. As a result, this Forum should be in the vanguard of further reinforcing mutually beneficial social and economic integrations of our government and people.
If we wish to bring national attention to our plights, we must be able to harmonize our thoughts and communicate in unison. In other words, an injury to one is an injury to all.
Thus, the Forum must speak out loudly as the voice of each State and all the states, because as it is now, certain important issues are left to the affected states to handle alone.
On this premise, this Forum must be more proactive in ensuring that the multibillion-dollar Mambilla Hydro-Electric Power Project (MHEPP), with a capacity of 3050 megawatts, is fully operational, as it can generate half of the present national power output from all existing generation stations combined.
There is, however, a pressing need to also construct an access road to the dam site which is located in Barup village, on the Mambilla Plateau, in Sardauna Local Government Area of the State.
The economic benefits of the power project, Your Excellencies, cannot be overemphasized, considering its potential to create hundreds of thousands of skilled and unskilled jobs for Taraba State, the Northeast region, and the entire country. This is why, as the voice of the North East, our Forum must vigorously advocate for the commencement of this massive project as soon as possible.
To this end, the North-East Governors’ forum needs to meet with the leadership of the National Assembly to press for budgetary provisions to be made in the supplementary appropriation as there is zero allocation in the 2021 Federal Budget.
As you are all aware, distinguished members of this forum, one of the long-standing difficulties affecting our region is the long-running insurgency that has disrupted our way of life and become a barrier to our developmental efforts.
I do, however, appreciate President Muhammadu Buhari’s renewed energy in confronting the Boko Haram threat, banditry, kidnapping for ransom, and other criminal activities head-on, and add that more is needed to be done to overcome these security challenges once and for all in the whole country.
12, Due to the persistent Boko Haram issue, we have lost a large section of our population. Many people have lost loved ones, and their livelihoods have been devastated. The threat will remain intractable as long as the insurgents’ sources of funding, supplies, and recruitment are not cut off.
Permit me to however salute the Nigerian Military’s sacrifices, heroism, and professionalism, not just in the fight against insurgents but also in defending the country’s sovereignty and unity. I must acknowledge that the military, police, and other security organizations have played and continue to play an important role in maintaining peace and security in troubled areas of the State. We will not fail to provide them with the required assistance and cooperation in this difficult undertaking.
The displacement of people from their ancestral homes has resulted in a serious refugee crisis, which is one of the consequences of the insurgency. Taraba has had to shoulder the burden of their plight, with thousands of them fleeing their villages and towns in search of a safe home in the State. The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and its Taraba State counterpart (SEMA), as well as local and international NGOs, have done a lot to alleviate their suffering, but the problem remains tremendous, and much more has to be done.
Similarly, the herders-farmers conflict has resulted in a high number of internally displaced persons (IDPs), mainly in Taraba State. Given our favourable climate, the ongoing problem has had a severe influence on agricultural output, as evidenced by the country’s high food prices. Insurgency, crime, and the persistent herder-farmer conflicts, no doubt, have impacted negatively on the country’s youth unemployment and high crime rates.
The North East region is one of the agriculture belts of the country. We need to figure out which crops grow in each of our states and where we have a comparative advantage over our competitors. In Taraba state, the government has promoted the cultivation of grains such as maize, guinea corn, and rice, as well as root crops like yam, cassava, and potato. We are also leading producers of beni seed, soya beans, avocado pear, citrus fruits among others. To increase the productivity of our farmers, this forum must key into Federal Government agriculture intervention programmes and also encourage farmers to form cooperatives to access low-interest loan facilities and other incentives.
This brings to mind the Great Green Wall plan, which aims to slow the spread of the Sahara Desert. The initiative should stimulate the planting of economic trees that will provide food for people and also serve as fodder for animals. Desert encroachment, unfortunately, has forced many people to migrate from the Sahel region to other parts of the country, therefore, this African Union programme should be re-energized with the support of this meeting.
On regional co-operation, the Chairman, board of directors of the North- East Regional Shuttle airlines, has been invited to make a presentation to the meeting on its progress, challenges facing the company, and the journey so far.
Respected and admired colleagues, I am delighted that oil has been discovered in the North East, notably in the Bauchi-Gombe axis and in Taraba State, but ours has both oil and gas. In the same line, I urge the federal government to expand and expedite exploration in the Chad basin, as well as the Benue trough, which, according to geological reports, is rich in oil and gas.
As a result of the 13 per cent derivation principle enjoyed by oil-producing States, we anticipate that early exploitation of petroleum resources in the North-East region will increase our revenue profile.
Similarly, the North-East states are rich in solid mineral reserves that are yet to be exploited. Solid mineral has a stable price on the international market, unlike crude oil and can help enhance and diversify the country’s economy.
Our august visitors, in harnessing the oil and gas as well as solid minerals resources in our region for increased revenue, we must avoid the mistakes of environmental contamination in the Niger Delta and Lead poisoning in Zamfara State, by ensuring rigorous environmental impact assessment study, before mining activities commence.
On this basis, I urge the Federal Government to work with State Governments to develop our mineral resources, which are on the exclusive list, even though the land use act vests land matters in the states, to increase income and revenue.
In this regard, I wish to recommend to the forum to push for the removal of the exploration and exploitation of mineral resources from the exclusive list to the concurrent list.
For instance, control over mining is delegated by the central government to regional authorities in South Africa, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Columbia, Chile, Canada, and Australia just to mention but a few. The South African Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, 2002 is a good example of how this could be resolved for the benefit of central and regional governments.
Dear colleagues, the Federal Government’s Road for tax plan, which gives select corporations like Dangote and BUA groups relief on backlogs of unpaid taxes in exchange for road development, is praiseworthy. Though, some of us have no idea of the criteria used to choose which roads to construct. Therefore, we are calling the Dangote group to consider the construction of selected roads in Adamawa and Taraba States where it has huge investments.
Similarly, the Taraba State Government had earlier made submission to the North-East Development Commission on the construction and rehabilitation of the following roads; Mararaba-Baissa-Abong, Lau-Karim Lamido, and Jalingo-Zing-Mayo Belwa to Ngurore. Therefore, I wish to request the Commission to commence work on the said roads.
Finally, I respectfully request that this distinguished forum debate the topics on the agenda objectively and come up with constructive and helpful solutions to problems that impact not only our region but the entire country.
Once again, I extend the most sincere greetings of the good people of Taraba State and wish you a memorable stay in our lovely State.
Thank you and God bless us all.