Governor Chibuike Amaechi has punctured claims that oil theft is responsible for the shortfall in allocation to states even as he attributed the development to factionalisation in the governors’ forum.
Regretting that the federal allocation to his state had plummeted from an average of N25 billion per month in 2008 to N12 billion as at last month, the leader of one of the NGF factions yesterday in Port Harcourt dismissed the Presidency’s excuse that oil theft was responsible for the fall in allocation.
According to Amaechi, the division in the NGF, which had in the past questioned the country’s financial status, “paved way for the massive looting of national resources in Abuja.” He noted that “it is incomprehensible for anyone to attribute oil theft for the plummeting of state revenue allocation from the federation account from N25 to N12 billion, which is 50 percent of the state’s revenue.
“Under (President Umaru) Yar’Adua, it was below one million barrels and I received higher revenue than I am receiving now. It simply means that people are sharing money in NNPC.
“I never bargained that that would happen. I had thought that people would have fear; I thought people would be afraid that we can’t touch this money because we will go to jail. Nobody is afraid. People are looting the country dry.”
Amaechi explained that each oil-producing state’s revenue ought to be based on the quantity of oil it produces, stressing that every governor is affected by the prevailing fall in federal allocation to states. He noted that the situation is even so critical that some states are unable to pay salaries and are threatening mass retrenchment.
Though Rivers’ workers are not owed, he explained, the state remains indebted to several contractors and is in dire need of money to complete its road projects, investments in power and others.
“Critical to us is that we must pay everybody’s salary, and when we pay, projects are greatly affected. We had promised that the 500 primary schools that we built would be furnished, now we can’t furnish all of them but only 100 because we don’t have the money,” he said.
“We promised that we will complete the remaining 250 to take us to 750, but we have stopped construction… because they have been stealing all the money in Abuja.”
He further regretted that the Federal Government has not refunded the over N105 billion the state spent on rehabilitation of federal roads in the state. He stated: “I pleaded with Mr. President that out of that N105 billion, the Federal Government should take N50 billion and do Trans-Kalabari for us.
“It is our money, it is our contract but he should pay the contractors and let us have the Trans-Kalabari Road, because I believe we should have a road from Buguma to Rumulomeni, where you have the University of Education, leading to Eagle Island, so that the Kalabari people can have alternative to the Emohua Road, which is broken down completely.”
Reacting to a June 2014 report by the Debt Management Office that puts Rivers’ external debt at $45.8 million, the governor said his administration never obtained any foreign loan. He explained that since 2008, the state has obtained about N300 billion in loans, out of which about N250 billion has been repaid.
According to him, currently, the state spends between N8 billion and N10 billion servicing domestic loans, and by November, the amount could drop to between N4 billion and N3 billion, as he does not intend to leave debt for the incoming administration.