The Federal Government may have begun a process of ceding power to states to enable them to take control of mineral resources in their domain, Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed has said.
Zainab was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Ernest Umakhihe at the joint retreat organized by the Senate Committee on National Planning and Economic Affairs and the Federal Ministry of Finance, on Monday in Abuja.
Umakhihe who was a member of the panel at the technical session while fielding questions said states must diversify to meet the needs of their people and reduce their dependence on federal allocation.
His words: “State governments should get their priority right. Planning should not be purely based on revenue allocation. States should devise a better way of generating revenue to meet the basic needs of their people.
“The emphasis at the National Economic Council is the diversification of the economy such that the states would become on their own self sufficient without relying heavily on the allocation from the federation account before they can execute some of their agenda.”
He continued that: “At the NEC level, a committee chaired by Governor Kayode Fayemi is already working on how the states can key into the exploration of solid mineral resources in their states.
“By the time the report of the committee would be ready, we would have states that would be able to exploit the solid mineral resources in their states and this would shore up their revenue profile.
“The Federal Government would be able to concentrate on critical national issues if there is no much pressure for allocation from the states. The states and the Federal Government are already partnering on a number of areas to ensure that the states are self-sustaining.
“When this is achieved, it would be easier to integrate the local, state and regional modular plans into the national plan for rapid economic growth and development,” Umakhihe stated.
Other panellists included Governor Kayode Fayemi, his counterpart from Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu, a former Chairman of the National Planning Commission, Prof Ode Ojowu.
There was a consensus of view among the panellists that a robust, all-inclusive and sustained national policy that would involve the active participation of government at all levels was critical to tackle the various social and economic challenges currently confronting the nation.
Umakhihe noted that the era where states would rely on the monthly allocation from the federation account to meet their needs would soon be over as the federal government was already addressing certain aspects of resource control.