Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole yesterday sounded the alarm over the depletion of Excess Crude Account, which he said was why the Federal Government had been unable to share its proceeds to states in the past 18 months.
He said the situation had resulted in huge distortions in the development plans of state governments as the fund had been badly mismanaged.
Speaking during a visit by the Association of Enigies in Edo South to Government House, Oshiomhole said, “Over the past 18 months, we have not shared the excess crude account, 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.”
According to the governor, “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 barrels 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 two 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? 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 what we have in our excess crude oil account should be over $30bn but as we speak, we have barely $3bn 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 price 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.”
On the state projects, Oshiomhole said the Central Hospital will be ready for use by August next year while contractors will be mobilised to site at 2nd East Circular Road in the New Year.
The governor also said 16 roads have been identified in the GRA for immediate rehabilitation for which contractors have already bided. He promised they would be fixed in the first half of the year.
Meanwhile, Governor Oshiomhole has pledged to help push the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, out of power next year. He spoke when he received 2, 000 PDP defectors in Oredo and Egor Local Government Areas of the state led by former chieftains, Messrs. Osaretin Oviawe and Igbe Kingsley.
Oshiomhole, who said the choice before the people in next year’s general election as very clearly a choice between darkness and change, said as long as the PDP remained in power, Nigerians will also remain in darkness.