Agene AKHERE, Benin
Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State says the inability of the Federal Government to share excess crude account in the last 18 months has distorted the developmental plans of the state governments just as so much money is been stolen in the guise of subsidy.
The governor, who disclosed this while speaking during a visit of the Association of Enigies from Edo South said: “Over the past 18 months, we have not shared the excess crude account and yet, the account is empty. Sometimes we are told they have taken money from it to fund subsidies including subsidy on kerosene but your royal highnesses, there is nowhere in your various domains where kerosene is sold for N50. So in the name of subsidy, large sums of money are being stolen.
“Things are tough now around the country because the Federal Government mismanaged our national resources and what is being stolen, nobody agrees it is being stolen. What is arguable is who is responsible for this stealing. When the Federal Government and the President talk about oil theft and the amount that is allegedly stolen is huge such that whereas we have the capacity to produce about 2.4 million barrels a day, what accrues into the federal government account is less than 1.8 million barrel a day.
“From the last time we had a meeting, the handouts they distributed shows that sometime for a period of two weeks, we were losing as much as 700,000 barrels a day and that has been on for the past 12 years. I am not able to understand why, suddenly, Nigeria cannot protect its territorial waters because the boundaries have not changed and the people are still the same and at the peak of the so-called militancy, we were still exporting about 2 million barrels a day.
“Then how can we explain that after we have resolved the issue of militancy in the Niger Delta, we have rehabilitated the ex-militants and even awarded contracts to them, that we are losing as much crude oil as that to oil thieves and to the best of my knowledge, there is no major known person who has been prosecuted and convicted for oil theft in a way that reflects the magnitude of what is allegedly stolen
“What this means is that our budgets have not performed over the past three years whereas the budgets have been based on an average of between $77 to $78 and $79 a barrel. The average price of Nigeria’s sweet crude has been around $108 per barrel. That gives a surplus of over $30. Ideally, we ought to be saving $36 per barrel and 2.3 million barrel a day over the past three years and if you look at these numbers you will find that hat we have in our excess crude oil account should be over $30billion but as we speak, we have barely $3 billon in our excess crude account.
“Now oil price has dropped to $60 and because we have not saved, the naira is undergoing devaluation. Already as low as N180 per dollar and I believe by February when the elections are over, nobody is going to want to hold the naira. Wherever the election goes, I expect that the naira will hit over N200 per dollar. The inflationary consequence of that is prices of everything will go up and part of the vicious cycle of the devalued naira in the manner that is being done is that the price of petroleum products imported in dollars will go up in naira and government will be asking people who are already poor to pay more money for petroleum products.
“I see this vicious cycle setting in and people are likely to get poorer and that will lead to more tension and we already have our fair share of insecurity.”
He urged the royal fathers to pray for Nigeria, saying “the year that is coming is going to be a very tough one. Pray for Nigeria, 2015 will be tough”.
On the ongoing projects in the state, the governor said the Central Hospital complex will be completed and ready for use by August next year, while contractors will be mobilized to site on the 2nd East Circular road in the new year. Also, the Governor said 16 roads have been identified in the GRA for immediate rehabilitation and contractors have already bid for the projects, saying the roads will be completely fixed in the first half of next year.
He said: “It’s not that government is unwillingly to work on roads in GRA but because of the lean financial resources.”
Responding, the Ogiegbaen of Egbaen commended the governor for the achievements recorded so far by his administration. He pledged that the Enigies will continue to support his government with prayers and advice to enable him succeed.