Osun Not Ready For Renegades’ Summit – Salaam | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Osun Not Ready For Renegades’ Summit – Salaam

Posted: Jul 23, 2015 at 1:07 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Rt. Hon. Nojeem Salaam, Speaker, Osun State House of Assembly, last week inaugurated an investigative panel to probe the petition by Justice Olamide Folahanmi Oloyede asking the assembly to commence impeachment process against Governor Rauf Aregbesola and his Deputy, Mrs. Grace Titilayo Laoye-Tomori, over allegation of financial recklessness and unpaid salaries to workers. He spoke to journalists, including GBENGA FATUROTI, on the issue. Excerpts…

The issue of unpaid salaries to public workers in Osun State appears to have negatively affected the economic activities of the state for lack of funds, and abandoning various projects across the state; what is your take?



Osun is passing through a phase, not standstill, and it is so because Osun, just like others, is a constituent unit of a troubled nation which was raped badly by the ousted Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) regime, and if President Muhammadu Buhari could describe the country as at present as Augean Stable that must be cleaned-up for forward march, what do you expect Osun as an integral part to do? Look, let us face the reality here, the predicament we are in is not about the making of an individual, governor or poor economic planning; it is a structural problem and not until the top gets it right, the federating units would still be contending with epileptic mode of economy and financial topsy-turvy, because the kind of federalism we practice is what I call ‘feeding bottle’ federalism. For no state could access her resources to surge up her finance, everything belongs to the federal government, and the federal government may not be ready to tap your own resources now, because there is one laying the golden eggs already.


Would you expatiate on that?

For instance, the entire Ilesa township is sitting on gold of South Africa quantity according to the expert report who came visiting of recent, yet we, as a state cannot mine it, because it is considered a national asset, just the way Ondo State could not tap her bitumen anyhow. So, each state of the federation must defer to the centre for ecological fund, education tax fund and so on and so forth. So, if you are not a friend of the centre and the sitting president is vindictive, then you are in for a big trouble. As for Osun, we are one of the least paid in the federal allocation and now that our allocation has fallen short of what can be used to defray salaries of workers alone, what can we do. Strategizing on how to wriggle out and that is what is going on now. Yes, it takes time, but we have to do it.


But some people believe that Governor Rauf Aregbesola has bitten more than he could chew in terms of capital projects and that the state has been dragged into heavy indebtedness in the process; that is why no amount of allocation could solve the problem at hand. What can you say to this?

People outside the government have right to their own opinions, but it would be unfair to hold the position of the bitter opposition as statement of facts, because their insinuations are full of fallacies and innuendoes. One, let it be known that executive could not do anything without the knowledge of the legislature. Two, we have to endorse any borrowing. Three, we have the power to oversight the projects captured in the budget. So, when some people say the governor has done this, has done that, the impression is that the governor has the power of life and death. No, democracy does not work like that. The true picture is, Governor Rauf Aregbesola came to Osun and was dissatisfied with the state of under-development what he met on the ground, and he vowed to remove the state from sleeping mode, change the sedentary life of the people and re-awakened its commerce.


On the debt –

On the debt issue, tell me of any atomic individual moral agent who intends to be great that would not incur debt? When I wanted to build my house, I took loan from a bank, that is debt, and I suffered to pay back. When an industrialist wants to inaugurate an industry, he approaches the bank or consortium of banks for fund; when an investor is ready to invest, he approaches banks. Then, what is the issue in approaching financial institutions in sourcing for funds to finance public infrastructure. America with its might has a debt ceiling of over 17 trillion dollars and it is a country the same critics want to go and access health, education, and holiday. We have to be fair to ourselves while criticizing a government; of course, it could have been a different ball game if those monies were borrowed to finance consumption. See, it saddened me that these days we have to resort to borrowing to offset pension and salaries, but for the fact that the banks could not lend us for now as a result of vindictive directive given to the banks by the ousted Jonathan administration, the noise is everywhere that the state could not pay salaries. Yes, it is painful that we have to find ourselves in this situation and it is disturbing to see our workers suffering, but what can an individual do when the entire country with the same connective rod is in trouble? Besides, what you called abandoned projects are not abandoned, they are only on a halt for want of funds, and immediately the state rebounds, the contractors would roll out their machine and the work would be done.


A serving judge in the state judiciary has petitioned the legislature to investigate the financial recklessness of Governor Rauf Aregbesola and his deputy and urged the parliament to begin impeachment process against them. How far has the assembly gone?

We have more than one petition for and against the governor and we have inaugurated an investigative panel headed by my deputy who is a lawyer, an engineer with journalistic background, to work on the petitions. So, wait for the report.


Are you going to be part of the stakeholders’ summit that is being packaged by Osun Stakeholders anchored by Yinka Odumakin, Niyi Owolade and Dr. Muyiwa Oladimeji led group, for you have been advocating for it?

Smile. I can’t be part of a summit whose report is predetermined to smear the personality of an individual whom the promoters believe would forever constitute a clog in their plan to hijack power in the state for their selfish interest. I think the profiles of those who are calling the summit suggest the coming together of renegades who hate Rauf Aregbesola’s gut, and right here I can tell you their three cardinal objectives: one, to hijack power in 2018 having lost out disgracefully in 2014; two, to wage campaign of calumny against the person of the governor; three, to set up fictitious figures as our debt profile, expenditure and income arbitrarily.


What can you say about the bailout packaged by the federal government for the states that are broke?

What obtained with the restructure of indebted states by the debt management office and N250 billion facility that can be tapped is a relief package not a bail out, because the obligations would still be met in the future, but the immediate result is to liquidate outstanding salaries and other obligations. So, the media should help us to educate the masses better. You see, I suspect a big conspiracy against Osun in the media, because over 18 states owed salaries of their workers and pensioners and over ten states have worse case scenario, but only Osun that is made to be the face of defaulting states.