By VICTOR AHIUMA-YOUNG
GOVERNOR Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State has raised the alarm that soon state governments might not be able to pay the salaries of workers and meet other obligations if the Federal Government refuses to release state allocations as at when due.
Already, investigations revealed that most state governments were finding it difficult to pay their contractors, who are now threatening to abandon ongoing projects and lay off workers.
“Very soon states may not be able to pay salaries as at when due, if the delay in releasing state allocations continues,” Governor Oshiomhole said at the just concluded 9th Triennial Delegates Conference of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, in Abuja.
He said: “You now know that for this year our budget has not been performing.
“Despite all the debates about benchmark for the budget, in the end the National Assembly resolved it and there were speculations by all kind of analysts.
“You know our analysts often put their reputations on the line depending on the next consultancy that they want.
“They tell us that the world economy is going to come down and that the Americans have discovered new fuel, that there are things happening in China and the economy is stagnating and therefore, the oil price would drop.
“I have always said that when they talk like that, they talk as if the world is static. It is not. Those nations said to be creating these problems are not sitting on the problems; they are working to change those conditions.
“In any event, it is now no more theory. Six months into the New Year, oil price has performed over and above the oil benchmark. So, what happened to all the forecasts? Oil is performing more than between 20 and 25 percent more than the budget.
“Yet, we are not able to receive our share of the Federation Account as at when due.
“They say we cannot fund the budget. Why? Is it because we are selling less? No, we are not because we can see it on CNN.
“It is not a classified state matter or a classified security matter. Oil is selling over and above the budget. So why is the budget not performing?
“Now we are told it is because of the level of crude theft. I read in one paper that as much as 600,000 barrels of crude is stolen per day.
“And because of the amount that is stolen, what is left is now below the budget export volume.
“So, are we now going to make national budget to factor in stealing? Is that the option? So, if it is not about the price, it is about the volume of theft. You can ask a question.
“Can your wife tell you that the two legs of the elephant are missing from the pot of soup? You can be searching for the liver in a pot of soup because it is small.
“However, when your cook tells you that the two legs of the fowl cannot be found in the pot, then that cook has a story to tell.”
“I want labour to stand up on this issue. Who is stealing this oil?
“Very soon states may not be able to pay able to pay salaries as at when due if the delay in releasing state allocations continues.
“It is a major national issue because you (workers) are not going to get your wages as at when due if crude oil is being stolen at the volume as it is.
“I am worried, very, very worried when the elephant leg is missing in the pot of soup. If you cannot find the elephant leg, who is going to search for the liver?”
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