Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo state has accused the Federal Government of failing to account for about $30billion that have accrued to Nigeria’s excess crude account in the last three years.
Mr. Oshiomhole made the allegation Thursday when he received members of the Association of Enegies from Edo South who paid him a courtesy call at Government House, Benin, the Edo state capital.
The governor said Nigeria’s budgets for the past three years have been based on the average of $77 and $79, while the average price of the country’s crude has been $108 per barrel, which gives an average surplus of $30 per barrel.
“Ideally, we ought to be saving $36 per barrel on the 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 $30billion but as we speak, we have barely $3 billon in our excess crude account,” he said.
Mr. Oshiomphole also wondered why the Excess crude Account is presently almost empty when proceeds from the account have not been shared for18 months now.
“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,” he said.
The governor also wondered why the country is still losing so much to oil theft even after the issue of militancy in the Niger Delta has been addressed and ex-militants rehabilitated with some even awarded contracts.
“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,” he said.
The Federation Accounts Allocation Committee, FAAC, meeting for November had ended in confusion on December 16 as representatives of Nigeria’s 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory accused the federal government of not accounting for about $1billion(N168 billion) of excess crude oil money.
The Chairman of State Commissioners of Finance, Timothy Odaah, told reporters after the meeting that no state knew how the $1 billion difference reported in the Excess Crude Account balance, between October and November, came about.
The Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, later said the $1 billion said to be missing was used by the Federal Government to settle debts to petroleum products marketers.
Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala did however not say why the Federal Government dipped its hand in the ECA without the knowledge or consent of the 36 states.
The FAAC meeting is a monthly gathering of state finance commissioners and the federal finance ministry and the Accountant General of the federation, where federal oil receipts are shared between the federal and state authorities.
With falling oil price, the 36 states have turned more attention on the Excess Crude Account, which has depleted from more than $40 billion in 2007 to about $4 billion in 2014.
Consequences of profligacy
Governor Oshiomhole said Nigeria is presently suffering from dwindling oil prices because the country failed to save for the rainy day.
He said such inability to save is what has led to the devaluation of the Naira.
“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 said.
Mr. Oshiomhole admonished the visiting royal fathers to pray for the country.
“The year that is coming is going to be a very tough one. Pray for Nigeria, 2015 will be tough,” he said.
On their part, the traditional rulers, who spoke through the Ogiegbaen of Egbaen, commended the governor for his efforts at developing the state, even as they pledged to continue supporting his administration.[Primium Times]