Edo State Governor Adam Oshiomhole, on Wednesday, lamented the depletion of the federal revenues by the central government while predicting that Nigerians are “likely to get poorer and that will lead to more tension.” Oshiomole spoke in Benin, the capital of Edo State when he received a group of monarchs, known as the Association of Eniges from the southern part of the state.
The governor stated that, “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.”
Oshiomole blamed the nation’s precarious financial situation on the Federal Government’s mismanagement, while expressing disbelief that the missing monies were stolen as purported. He said that “When the Federal Government and the President (Goodluck Jonathan) talk about oil theft, the amount that is alleged to be stolen is so huge that if we produce about 2.4 million barrels a day, what accrues into the federal government account is less than 1.8 million barrel a day.”
According to Oshiomole, the last meeting (where revenues were shared) “showed 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 twelve years.”
He expressed dismay about the government’s inability to “protect its territorial waters because the boundaries have not changed and the people are still the same.” Oshiomole said even “at the peak of the so-called militancy, we were still exporting about 2 million barrels a day.” Oshiomole said he could not understand why crude oil theft has persisted despite the amnesty and contracts given to ex-Niger Delta militants. The governor further painted a grim picture on crude oil sales in the last three years. According to him, “our budgets have not performed over the past 3 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 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.”