Oyo: As past, incumbent administrations trade words over missing assets

Sixty days into the life of the new administration of Oyo state, all is still not well as allegations and counter-allegations have become the order of the day. AGOOLA BAYO writes.

It is not yet uhuru between the immediate past administration in Oyo state led by Senator Abiola Ajimobi and incumbent, Engineer Oluseyi Makinde as they engage in a cat and dog game in recent times.

This is because in less than 60 days of Engr Makinde in office, it has been one allegation and counter allegation after the other from the two sides.

The game resurfaced on July 18 when the political aides of Senator Ajimobi under the umbrella of Forum of Ex-Political Appointees of the former governor led by their spokesperson, Professor Adeniyi Olowofela, stormed the NUJ Press Centre in Ibadan to put the records straight.

How Makinde started the fight

 Governor Makinde had during a media parley organised by the Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo state raised many issues and alleged atrocities reportedly perpetrated by the immediate past administration prominent among which were the N150 billion debts, carting away of state government-owned vehicles by political office holders, award of road contract at a sum of N2billion to a faceless contractor, among others.

 Governor Makinde while answering questions on vehicles purportedly carted away by the former political appointees as well as the debts so far discovered, said, “Nobody came to plead with me underground. There is no reason to come and beg me because the properties we are talking about do not belong to Seyi Makinde. They belong to all of us in Oyo state, So, what kind of plea would you make that I should allow them to take property that belong to all of Oyo state people away? That kind of plea cannot hold water. They should return whatever belongs to Oyo state. You should also recall that I told the people that we were not afraid of being treated the same way we will treat those who just left government. We won’t mind if anyone does to us whatever we do to the past administration when we leave office, because we are not going to witch-hunt anyone. It is more of us doing what is right and that is what we will do.

“On the second question about how much debt our government inherited, we are still looking at the books. But the one we have seen and confirmed is the debt owed by the past administration which is about N150 billion. Once again, I will tell the people of Oyo state that if we change N150 billion to dollars, it will be about US$500 million. If we do what we are supposed to do in these four years and expand the economy, the debt will not hurt us; but if we verify that some of the debts are questionable; for instance, if you float a bond, it is supposed to be tied to a particular project. So, the bond they floated, was it used for the project it was meant for? “We can do a value-for-money audit using a baseline of what happened at certain periods so that as we go forward; we would not also fall into the same ditch. But if we calculate everything being owed as of now, it is going to about N150 billion. As we speak, the money that comes from Abuja is N4.5 billion and the workers’ salary is N5.4 billion. That means we need to take at least N1 billion to plug that wage bill and there are many things that we want to do. But where I am coming from as an entrepreneur, I started my business with N50,000, so, I am not afraid about whether we can surmount the challenges facing the state or not. If we have the support of the citizenry and they know what we are doing and the direction we are heading, there is no doubt we will succeed.”

Ajimobi’s camp replies

However, the aides of Senator Ajimobi at the press briefing tagged: ‘Enough of lies, propaganda and outright falsehood’ addressed by Professor Olowofela, former commissioner for education together with Mr Tunji Bolaji, former special adviser on media and strategy and Hon Abiodun Ambali, former special assistant on political matters said, “It has come to our notice and our investigation has also revealed that there is a deliberate smear campaign against the immediate past administration in the state by the apologists of the present administration saying, “This is in order to destroy the legacies of the immediate past administration and to individually and collectively malign us.”

Professor Olowofela stressed that, “These orchestrated propagandas started a few weeks ago when the former administration was accused of awarding the Iseyin-Moniya-Oyo road to a faceless contractor at a cost of N2billion per kilometre which had been debunked. Not only that, the present administration had also falsely alleged that the state had a debt profile of N150b, which has been confirmed to be incorrect. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the Debt Management Office (DMO) put a lie to this. Total Domestic Borrowings at end of the Ajimobi administration was just over N90b of which about 35% constituted provisions for arrears of pensions and gratuities of civil servants.

“The remainder of the amount was made up of bailouts and interventions extended by the federal government to all states to assist government alleviate pains experienced by the populace as a result of the global economic depression and the fall in oil prices. These include N18b salary bailout of 2015, N10b infrastructure loan and N18b budget support facility. The debt amount also included a N4.3b provision for salary which had since been paid. The actual government borrowings were the state capital bond of N3bn and N8b commercial bank loan which had been converted into a bond by the federal government.”

“We have decided to respond to the current smear campaign about vehicles alleged to have been recovered from some aides and political office holders. As stated, these are orchestrated campaigns of calumny and cheap propaganda aimed at rubbishing the well-known giant achievements of the Ajimobi administration which we were part of. We have always challenged the current administration to come up with names of people alleged to have taken vehicles away illegally or without justification. Till date, they have not been able to do so.”

Professor Olowofela added, “We are also challenging the Engineer Seyi Makinde administration to tell the people of Oyo state and the whole world. Which mechanic workshop were these vehicles recovered from? Who took such vehicles to the mechanic workshop? Were there no documentations given to the mechanic when the vehicles were received? If there were documentations, then they should tell the whole world the circumstances that led to the vehicles being in the workshop? Lastly, when were the vehicles taken to the workshops?

“From our own investigations, we discovered that some government apologists are behind the present smear campaign. Further information also revealed that an individual named Olopoeniyan is prominent. These people have been going around mechanic workshops, way-laying and picking up vehicles alleged to have been illegally taken away. Some of these vehicles have either been boarded or officially taken to mechanic workshops for repairs.”

The forum maintained further, “We want to advise the administration to desist from these deliberate campaign of calumny as this could lead to the breakdown of law and order which we had hitherto enjoyed in the last eight years.

We want to further advise the administration of Gov Seyi Makinde to squarely face the serious task of governance instead of embarking on the mundane attempt to malign his predecessor-in-office and paint him and his aides in bad light.” With these counter allegations accusations from the immediate past administration and the incumbent, the fear is that if care is not taking, the next few months might be at best a mere waste of time and distractions arising from the ongoing trade of words which may be at the detriment to the people.

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