I keep asking them, this resource control they are using America as an example to campaign for, who will control the resources in Nigeria because in the U.S., individuals who own lands where there is oil control the oil while the U.S. federal government control oil in federal lands.
The U.S. federal government owns and manages roughly 640 million acres of land in the United States, or 28% of the 2.27 billion total land acres.
In California, the U.S. federal government owns 47% of the land.
The US federal government owns 79.6% of Nevada’s 70,264,320 acres.
The U.S. federal government controls more than 50% of the land in four other states: Utah (63.1%), Idaho (61.6%), Alaska (61.3%) and Oregon (53.0%).
So all the resources in those lands belong to the U.S. federal government which shares the proceeds with all the states in the U.S.
Nigeria’s federal government doesn’t own any land in any state apart from the federal capital territory, Abuja. Communities own land in Nigeria administered by state governors through the land use act. Yet these overnight activists claim Nigeria has a faulty structure.
So if we want to do it like U.S., fine. Let’s abolish the land use act so every community can control their land and their oil.
Then like the U.S federal government, the Nigerian federal government will then be collecting individual income taxes, payroll taxes, and corporate income taxes etc. which will constitute about 93% of federal government revenue as it is in U.S. since we want to copy them.
Like states in the USA, our own States will now make money from collecting property tax 17% and VAT 12% (not 7%) (currently in Nigeria, states own the VAT, FG only take 15% to cover the cost of collection).
These overnight activists are clever by half. They shout USA but what they are proposing in Nigeria is not what is done in USA.
In the United States, ‘landowners possess both surface and mineral rights unless they choose to sell the mineral rights to someone else. Once mineral rights have been sold, the original owner retains only the rights to the land surface, while the second party may exploit the underground resources in any way they choose’.
The catch is that those land owners still pay tax on the royalty they get to U.S. federal government at tax rates of up to 40%. The U.S federal government then re-distribute the money among the states.
The U.S. government itself gets royalty of about 12.5% from oil on the land it owns which it redistribute to all the states too.
The Nigerian Resources control advocates are just engaging in voyage of deceits to cover up their mismanagement of the resources of their States.
Presumably, when the elites in States that has oil producing communities finish sharing state allocations among themselves without developing the state and the communities that produce the oil, they start crying RESOURCE CONTROL to deceive the gullible.
You cannot hear them talk about resource control for communities and individuals which is what applies in the U.S they love to quote because 95% of them are not from oil producing communities. They want their state government to control the resources (which is not the case in their beloved U.S. system) to increase the pool of money they can mismanage.
Even the 13% derivation is meant specifically for oil producing communities in the state that receive it yet the communities don’t see 1% of that money.
Oil producing communities in my state (Akwa Ibom) are in a sorry state yet the advocates of resource control are blind to the deprivation of these communities by their state governors. Those are anomalies that need to be corrected.
Going forward, to promote good governance, what Nigeria need is to institutionalize accountability frameworks for proper management of the resources. Autonomy of local governments, state legislatures and the judiciary which our current constitution is not against is a starting point.
In conclusion, my submission is that Nigeria’s current structure is not faulty as it is one of the best in the world. Moreover, if we must go that route, any resource control agitation that is not focused on the communities and individual property owners controlling the resources and paying taxes to the federal government of Nigeria which it will redistribute to the states (as is done in the U.S. they quote) is a fraud.
Mfon Offiong, A Management Consultant, writes from Abuja.