Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State has tasked the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to question the federal government on how hundreds of barrels of crude oil are stolen without check on a daily basis.
Speaking at the ground breaking of the Labour House in Benin City, Oshiomhole alleged that Nigeria was being run in a directionless manner and the labour movement must show more interest in the national discourse so that the ship of state can be steered in the right direction.
According to him, “Issues of the management of the treasury and issues of oil theft are not the preserve of the political class. Oil is being stolen. Nigeria has a capacity for 2.5 million barrels a day. We have oil performing on an average of $108 a barrel over the past few years it has hovered around that average. Sometime it went to $111, at a time it dropped to $106 per barrel.
“Oil performance has been stable and we budget at $98, with the difference over a period of three years, we ought to have huge reserves now so that when occasion like this comes, we will live as if there is no fluctuation. But while this was going on, we suddenly heard of crude oil theft, sometimes about 700 barrels per day is allegedly stolen. Seven hundred barrels per day, these are big vessels.”
The governor declared: “I think the NLC needs to show more interest in this politics of oil theft. Who are the people stealing this oil, and since when? What has changed about the territorial boundaries of Nigeria? In good times, we were told this oil is being stolen and in bad times we are told to fasten our belt. I feel strongly about those things. We have always been hearing about illegal bunkering, but we have never heard of this level of massive oil theft.
“Someone has a duty to explain that, and NLC has a duty to ask. In the state, we are clear, we are deepening our taxes and we need the NLC to support us. The state had been held hostage by few unaccountable godfathers in the name of politics which the people can see. Government property was sold for as low as N1million in GRA with house on it.”
Explaining further, the governor said: “I want you to understand that the struggle we have been waging needs to be sustained, not for my good but for the good of the state. We cannot have a country where people just feast on others and they think it is their birth right to continue to feast.”
On the rationale for the Labour House, Oshiomhole said: “I offered to build this house for the labour movement in the state because no man is free if he does not live in his own house. I believe it is more valid for a trade union movement because of the kind of work they do.”
On his part, the President of the NLC, represented by the Deputy President, Mr. Sidi Mohammed, said the governor had done the NLC proud as former president and as governor of the state.
“We cannot forget the sacrifices you made in the labour movement. And for those who accuse you today, they should have known that without the labor force, there would not have been democracy today. You led us in the struggle, we slept in the bush, we were beaten and today they are reaping what we built yet they call us names,” he said.
Earlier, the National President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Bobbol Kaigama, expressed delight that trade union movement had opened the year 2015 on a progressive note, stressing that the ground breaking ceremony for the construction of twin buildings as state secretariat for the councils was laudable.