Re: Aregbesola Vs Akinwusi: No Basis For Comparison By Lateef Raji
But for the purpose of setting the records straight for a deserving reading public, Remi Oyewusi’s piece on the above subject would have been better ignored for its lack of substance. However, if falsehood is wittingly or unwittingly allowed to fester, overtime,unsuspecting recipients might be taken-in, confusion and despondency will begin to set in. Hence, these attempt to set the records straight.
It’s a long-established assertion that an unending series of lies will be required to sustain falsehood. Oyeyemi writing was meant to be a PR job for a group of relevance-seeking people, bent on making gains out of the current financial challenges confronting the Government of the State of Osun and its people. However, since it is impossible to sustain a regime of falsehood for too long, the perpetrators themselves are now entangled in a slack of contradictions. Rather than attract goodwill to the dramatis personae, the said article is provoking a discourse on the motivations, integrity, and character of those it was intended to serve, particularly the controversial former Head of Service in the state, Olusegun Akinwusi.
For a background to the motivations of the key proponents of the ongoing campaign of calumny against Aregbesola, it is instructive to note that Messrs Iyiola Omisore, Niyi Owolade and Segun Akinwusi were candidates of the PDP, AP and SDP respectively in the 2014 governorship election in which the good people Osun overwhelming returned Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola for a second term of four years. In the same election, despite the huge sums of money and the enormous security apparatus deployed to secure the state for the PDP; Iyiola Omisore only got a showing in the two LGAs in his cocoon at Ile-Ife, and the total votepolled by Akinwusi in the entire state was less than what Aregbesola got in one polling unit!
Since the gang could not realize their ambitions at the polls, their motive is just one, and it isnone other than getting at Rauf Aregbesola at all cost. Anything that could dent his image anddenigrate him is welcome. It does not matter if it is not the truth in as much as the mob can run with it.
But, Oyeyemi missed it all. The good people of Osun know better. They appreciated the great works embarked upon in the state since 2010. No matter the amount of lies put out there by these unabashed reprobates, the people have demonstrated their confidence and trust in Rauf.A reputation built over time on transparency, and honesty cannot be rubbish by a bunch of renegades masquerading as latter-day champions of the people.
The former Head of Service (HoS) like Justice Folarhanmi Oloyede and their fair- weather friends that assembled in Ile Ife for a state-wide summit that has only 37 people in attendance are merely acting a script of lies, falsehood and propaganda prepared by someone who is scared of even his shadow. The allegations about the financial health of the state were all in a bid to rubbish the person of Ogbeni Aregbesola. It is obvious from the allegations raised, that Akinwusi has a challenge with understanding public finance and was just bent onbespattering mud on Ogbeni’s reputation. This is a big shame considering the fact that he served as HoS for almost a decade!
Based on the hollow allegations contained in the paper he presented in Ile Ife, it is very clear that there are a lot of things Akinwusi was either ignorant of or just mischievous about. He was just eager to play a role in the satanic plot of bringing down Ogbeni Aregbesola at all cost. He threw decorum into the wind. His first faux pas was ignorantly including the Excess Crude and Sure P funds into what he called Federal Allocation.
The fact is, there is no revenue head called Federal Allocation. The revenue heads are Statutory Allocation Revenue, VAT, SURE P, and Excess Crude Account (ECA). These revenues were all included in Mr. Governors presentations to State House of Assembly. Akinwusi’s intention was to deliberately confuse the public, and evidently from his write-up, Remi Oyeyemi, his image laundering agent took the bait, hook, line and sinker. He was so impatient to serve his paymaster, he could not even cross-check the facts; he just went to town also exhibiting the same lack of understanding.
Secondly, the figures given by Mr. Governor in his speech were up to Oct 2014, and it was put at 35.87 Billion. Akinwusi went further to display his ignorance or is it mischief by committing the following fallacies in his presentation to the public on 27th July 2015. One of it was that Aregbesola also got the following revenues: Excess Crude Account (ECA) – 61.7 Billion, IGR – 43.6 Billion, SURE – P – 14.4 Billion and SUBEB -13.9 Billion. Secondly, Excess Crude Account (ECA) and Sure P are revenues from Abuja already included in his figures and that of Mr. Governor, so they were double counted figures by Akinwusi, and were wrong. Excess Crude Account was 17.3 Billion (to date) and SURE P was 6.69 Billion respectively. Similarly, the IGR was never 43.6 Billion; it was 25.6 Billion from Nov. 2010 to Dec. 2014. The monthly IGR of the State prior to Aregbesola’s tenure was a mere 300 Million Naira monthly.
Akinwusi also made reference to the’’ Sukuk Bond’’. According to Akinwusi, “today we are to pay a sum of 25.5 Billion Naira to service a loan of 11.4 Billion Naira.” This is not only a spurious statement, but also criminal. Akinwusi did not use reducing balance in his calculations of “returns” to be paid to the Sukuk investors, thereby overstating the figure. This shows the depth of his knowledge and his character. It is laughable that he also added the principal figure to the “return” figure and called the total “the loan service figure.” The 25.50 Billion is a wrong assertion and a deliberate attempt to confuse the public.
On the loan exposure of Osun State, it is very important to state unequivocally that the State did not take any loan from Infrastructure Development Bank or a N17.5 Billion Naira loan from Bank of Infrastructure as insinuated by Akinwusi. Why they chose to go for outright fabrication when the facts are readily available on request is best known to them. With methods like this, the public is better acquainted with where they are coming from.
Revelation from a curious scrutiny into Adewusi’s time in the public service of the state is rather shocking; it opens a window into how his mind works and seriously questions his rising to the position of the Head of Service. His current tirades only confirm the cliché that ‘’a leopard can’t change its spots’’.
At different points during his career, he has been found wanting on a number of malfeasance not unconnected with dubious financial transactions the gravity of which were enough to have warranted his unceremonious discharge from public service and being made to cool off for years in some dingy cell somewhere, but for the humane nature of the governor. He was once cautioned by the governor for unilaterally approving contract variation for a relation of his from N106, 265,029.26 to N178, 371,594.18 for the Staff Development Centre without the knowledge and approval of the Governor.
Without regard for budgetary provisions in March and April, 2010, he also expended the sum of about N20 million to conduct promotion exams that should not be more than six millionNaira. Similarly, in 2011 and 2012, he gave an approval for the purchase of vehicles to Osun State Property Development Corporation without the Governor’s consent. What else can we expect from a Head of Service who strongly opposed the creation of a Directorate Cadre for Accountants in Osun State Civil Service because of his selfish motive of sacrificing a class of the Civil Service for another? The good people of the State of Osun will never forget in a hurry, this Head of Service who resisted the independence of the Millennium Development Goals which hitherto was under his indirect control. Granting autonomy to this agency effectively broke his ‘’pot of soup’’.
The retirees and pensioners in Osun State will also not forget in a hurry the HoS that sent some of their colleagues to their early graves as a result of his unscrupulous deals while he was in active service. For instance, the HoS maintained four commercial bank accounts during his tenure with huge amounts of money belonging to the poor retirees, pensioners and enriched himself with the interests, which ordinarily should have accrued to the state government coffers. Mr. Akinwusi and his loyalists held on to the state’s pension funds as another slush fund in the commercial banks with the sum of N4, 032,987,944.30 (Four billion, thirty two million, nine hundred and eight seven thousand, nine hundred forty four naira and thirty kobo. Breakdown of the amount lodged in various banks are: Skye Bank -Bureau of Public Service Pension and Local Government Staff Pension Board, N1,859,308,887.56 and N36, 960,993.36 respectively; Zenith Bank Plc- LGSPB Contributory Pension Scheme, put at N1,131,550,360.40; and Access Bank Plc- Primary School Teacher Pensioners – N1,005,167,702.98
It is unthinkable that only two out of those four bank accounts had an interest while the other two had zero interests. By using the prevailing interest rate operation during the period whilethe HoS was in office, the state had suffered a financial loss of N368, 124,179.80 (Three hundred and sixty eight million, one hundred and twenty four thousand, one hundred and seventy nine naira and eighty kobo) to none other than a Head of Service who swore to serve the state with honour and integrity.
The financial loss (Expected Interest less interest to the Government) arose through the process of opening of accounts in commercial banks and diverting of interests. If the HoS hadgood intentions for the state, he would have monitored the pension accounts in his custody judiciously instead of enriching himself with the accrued interest.
In the same vein, the redemption fund that was meant to be transferred to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) was never transferred because of his interest until the current administration stepped in. This redemption fund was lumped together with the 7.5% state pension contributory in the same account without any proper classification. This is the fund that was supposed to replace gratuity and to be paid to the retirees under the contributory pension scheme. It is on record that the past administration under which Akinwusi served as the Head of service accumulated huge pension liabilities, one of which was 142% pension increase (initiated by the Federal government), amounting to N4billion. Through deception for selfish motives, Mr. Akinwusi was at a time advising the current administration not to pay the accumulated pension liability on the 142% pension increase to the innocent pensioners.
That the state is passing through a financial strait is not in doubt, and the helmsman is not in any form of denial. But, unlike what the opposition will want the public to believe, it is the same situation for most of the states in the federations whose bulk of revenue comes from the Federation Account. The State of Osun is grappling with its inability to be up to date in salary administration due to factors beyond its control. However, this is one government that has scored a number of firsts in staff welfare; it is only persons of dubious callings that will accuse the administration of Rauf Aregbesola of deliberately putting its workforce through awkward times.
For instance, the new Minimum Wage Act of Eighteen thousand naira (N18, 000.00) was raised up to Nineteen thousand naira (N 19, 000.00).). Consolidated Tertiary Institutions Salary Structures (CONTEDISS) and Consolidated Polytechnics and Colleges of Education Academic Staff Salary Structure (CONPCASS) was also implemented by Ogbeni’s Administration. Similarly, Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) and consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS) for workers in the Health Sector were implemented. Under this administration, Salary Structure andAllowances of State Counsels, Judicial Officers, Magistrates and District Court Presidents were reviewed upwards. The retirement age of Staff in Tertiary Institutions was also reviewed upward from sixty (60) years to Sixty-five (65) years. All of these had been done, while Akinwusi busied himself chasing shadow.
While I empathise with the people of the state, it is imperative that we look inwards in termsof the good deeds of Ogbenis’s administration, which is a testimonial of his forthrightness and prudence of public resources rather than being hoodwinked by charlatans like Akinwusi’s distortion of facts and Oyeyemi hatchet job. The intention of these few conspirators is to permanently distract the government from coming up with constructive ways out of the logjam. With the support and understanding of all stakeholders, these detractors will fail once again in their plot. Except that they are thick-skinned to shame.
Ogbeni’s projects are geared towards improving the quality of life of the people of the State of Osun. Provision of free meals to pupils in public schools, provision of free uniforms, provision of computer tablets (Opon Imo), first of its kind in Nigeria which contains textbooks and Past Exam Questions and providing 20,000 jobs within three months of assuming office are some of Aregbesola’s indelible interventions in the State of Osun to mention just a few.
Instead of dissipating their energy on peddling lies and falsehood with the aim of causing public disharmony, it is imperative to reprove Akinwusi and his band of petition writers to seek personal redemption before they are finally consigned to the wastebasket of history, and learn to be responsible and patriotic citizens, who can live above the parochial confines of the type of politics that cloud their views. A word is enough for the wise.
Lateef Raji was a former Special Adviser to the Governor of Lagos State.