The government of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola of the State of Osun has suffered the worst form of media attacks in the hands of half-baked journalists, economic saboteurs, religious fundamentalists and political neophytes. Over time, their unending attacks have been orchestrated to malign the governor, incite the people against him by distorting facts and putting up a false narrative of the true state of events in Osun.
It is pertinent to say that the monumental strides recorded in Osun under Governor Aregbesola are legendary and would forever remain indelible in the hearts of the people. It is worthy of note also, that even under the present inclement financial weather, Ogbeni Aregbesola has paid the salaries of civil servants and pensioners up till December 2016, a rare feat in the country, which is commendable.
Going down memory lane, in November 2010 when he assumed the mantle of leadership in Osun, the price of crude oil was well above $100 and he inherited a net wage bill of just N1.4 billion. As at today, with increase in minimum wage, even when the price of crude oil has dipped to around $50, Osun salary obligation hovers around N3.6 billion. It takes a measure of ingenuity, creativity and sacrifice on the leadership of the state government to be able to pay salaries, run the government and provide social and economic infrastructure, despite this glaring shortfall in revenue.
Although, a cadre of the workers, those on grade level eight and above, have not been collecting full salary under the modulated salary scheme contained in the agreement signed by the state government and the workers unions, which implementation and operations have been adjudged successful.
In the same vein, the teeming pensioners in Osun have been treated with the same consideration and courtesy. A case in sight is the concessional loan obtained by states governments from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in 2015 for defraying backlog of salary arrears in which Osun got N34 billion. Despite the clear directive from the CBN that the grant was for the payment of active workers only and the insistence of labour unions to exclude pensioners, Ogbeni Aregbesola in his magnanimity and consideration for the retirees still released a whopping N7.44billion to offset the outstanding arrears of pensioners – N5.42billion for State pensioners and N2.02 billion for Local Government pensioners.
In contrast, there have been undenied reports of neglect of pensioners by various State Governments across the country, including in an Eastern State where retirees have not received a dime in the last 72months.
Yet, from the recently released Paris Club refund of N11.7 billion used in offsetting backlog of workers salaries, 21,552 Osun pensioners got a total of N2.57 billion for the payment of September to December 2016 salaries. For emphasis sake, just as the active workers, Osun pensioners, both State and Local Governments, have been paid till December 2016. Though Osun got a sum of N11.7billion from the shared Paris Club refund, a verifiable sum of 14.2 billion was expended for payment of salaries and wages of September-December 2016 salaries.
It’s worth noting that under the modulated scheme, a total sum of N3.98bn was paid to state pensioners for year 2016 while their counterparts in the Local Government gulped a total sum of N3.90 billion, totalling N7.88 billion as pension payment in 2016 for Osun retirees.
It is however disheartening to read The Punch newspaper make mockery of the government by circulating tendentious picture of misguided pensioners, less than 100 in number, claiming to have opened an IDPs camp, without recourse to ethical and professional requirement of investigation, in order to have a well-balanced report.
This is nothing other than the hijack of a media organisation for propaganda and incitement of the people against the government by obsolete political marauders who have failed to see anything good in the government of the day. We are unperturbed by their moves as their combined efforts remain insignificant politically in the politics of Osun, as indicated in all elections conducted in the state since 2011 in which they have continued to suffer heavy defeat.
We share the pains of the people and governments of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States, who have some of their citizens and residents in the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps. We sympathise with the victims of terrorist attacks who have lost family members, their homes, valuables and possessions and are left with no other home apart from the IDPs camps. If the dream of the writer of the malicious story and his cohorts such as a dismissed female Judge and a fake cleric is to have Osun host an IDP centre, in a state where peace and tranquillity is second to none, where ongoing projects are nearing completion, where masses oriented programmes are applauded internationally, then we leave posterity to be the judge of their wicked intentions.
The Aregbesola administration is forging ahead to deliver on all promises to the people of the state, complete all projects embarked upon, make life more meaningful for the citizens, expand the horizon of economic activities, attain enviable heights in all facets of human endeavour and leave behind a legacy for championing a free and egalitarian society devoid of poverty, violence, crime and injustice.
We appeal for understanding, support and cooperation from all citizens and residents, in order to transform our dream of a great and prosperous state into reality for our generation and the yet to be born.
Engr . Omowaiye Oluremi A.
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