The Director of Publicity, Research and Strategy, Osun State All Progressives Congress, Kunle Oyatomi, in this interview with Adesoji Adeniyi, speaks on the financial situation of the state and other issues.
The All Progressives Congress-led government is being accused of mis-managing the state resources and civil servants are being owed salaries. What is your comment on this accusation?
It’s a pity you did not indicate who made the allegation. The only consistent adversary of the APC that has been trumpeting this fallacy is the PDP. One thing that that party has become notorious for in Osun, is its incorrigible disposition to telling lies about APC government in general and Governor Aregbesola in particular.
The salary crisis in Osun State is not as a result of financial mismanagement. Enough information to that effect is in the public domain. There was a Federal Government systemic failure, due to unprecedented corruption of the Jonathan-led PDP government in Abuja. The level of the PDP’s kleptomania in Abuja is unknown in the history of Nigeria. The effect on the whole country is also unprecedented in terms of poverty, collapse of state governments and the inability of the majority of the states to pay workers’ salaries in the country. Osun, being one of the states, with the least advantage (what people called poor) was adversely affected by this systemic failure. Therefore, to put the crisis at the doorstep of the state government is bad. Also the so-called ‘financial mismanagement’ statement is the most uncharitable and disingenuous placement of blame.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is alleging that the state government is being economical with the truth on the state of finance of Osun. How correct is this?
Nigerians are beginning to develop a culture of believing falsehood before they try to find out what the facts are. And the proponent of this terrible culture is the PDP, especially the Osun State chapter. This is what has happened in reference to the allegation you refer to. Gullible people have already bought into the PDP lies on this subject and they have become so blinded by it that they become impervious and incapable of appreciating the voluminous facts, figures and true explanation of this situation, comprehensively presented by the Governor himself at the inauguration ceremony of the 6th State House of Assembly since June 2nd, 2015. Even as you know this, scant publicity was given to what Aregbesola said, so the public is underinformed and misinformed at the same time. This is because those who have the responsibility to publicise the truth have done so selectively, while they have given copious space to the fallacies of the PDP. Only those who decided to find out what the truth is are not deceived by this unfortunate phenomenon. We would have thought that if the PDP were so sure of its facts and figures, it would have either gone to court or petition the EFCC with whatever kind of ‘facts and figures’, it has fabricated. Like they were disgraced at the tribunal, the Appeal Court and the Supreme Court of the land over the lies and fallacies it propagated on the governorship election of August 9, 2014, exactly a year ago, the PDP and its surrogates in the civil society and the judiciary will also be disgraced in court and the EFCC. The Osun financial crisis is beyond the state because it is a national disaster caused by the PDP, not the APC.
Many of the state government’s projects have been described by the PDP as avenues to siphon resources. How can you prove the PDP wrong?
It is not our business to prove the PDP wrong. It is the business of PDP to go to court and prove that we had done something wrong. Anyway, if any group of people wish to know the truth of this matter, all roads leading to the state of Osun are open and doors to the relevant institutions on the so-called ‘misplaced projects’, can come and find out the truth and Osun government will readily open the books for them. Our priority is not the PDP’s priority and we are not accountable to that party. We are only accountable to the good people of Osun and the governor has done fantastic job of explaining the whole situation of things to the good people of the state and majority of our people believed him. So we cannot toe the PDP’s priority list which made them failed the people, having stayed in power for 90 months without responsibility. That’s why the Osun people emphatically voted APC again in the last gubernatorial election, to renew its mandate for another four years. It is the belief and trust of the people in Aregbesola and what he is doing that gave him victory in the last election as well as the massive support they gave the APC during the presidential election six months ago. However, we cannot stop those who are thrilled by the PDP lies from enjoying themselves deviously.
The recommendations of the House of Assembly’s seven-man committee on the petition of Justice Folahanmi Oloyede did not go down well with the PDP, which more or less sees it as witch hunting “a courageous judge,” fighting and defending the rights of the people of the state.
APC is not in power to please the PDP. We are not in power either to listen to stupid talks of people who need psychological help. To properly locate the mentality of the PDP in Osun, we would advise people who are interested in development in the State to watch closely how the case of this Judge, her petition and the PDP’s support for her, will turn out. Fortunately, the EFCC has come in. The National Judicial Council has been invited. Aregbesola has made his presentation? in response to the Judge’s allegations. The Judge has refused to defend her worthless petition before the Assembly, and the Assembly has thrown out the petition. She even thinks she is above the summons of the EFCC.
How far this collaboration between the PDP and the Judge can go will sooner than later be obvious.
One of the reasons for tension in the state lately is the claims by the PDP that Aregbesola is planning to sack some workers to reduce the government overheads. Are there some elements of truth in this claim?
Answer: We, as a party, are not aware of what the PDP is referring to. But if I may volunteer an opinion. And please note, this is my personal reasoning. It is not the position of the party or the government. In a crisis like this, where the state capacity to even meet the wage bill; in a situation where corruption has destroyed the nation’s economy to the extent that Osun has been adversely affected; ?where all your receipts in a month, internally and externally generated revenue is a little above N2 billion and you face a MUST expenditure (i.e. Salaries and pensions alone) of N4 billion, there can be only TWO possible solutions: you either rightsize to meet your earnings or subject salaries to a critical haircut. The only other alternative is massive intervention by the Federal Government, to help states in difficulties to carry their wage bill.
Question: What is the situation about the state government’s effort to secure a bail out to clear the workers’ salary arrears, which the PDP keeps saying that Aregbesola is far from finding a lasting solution to?
Answer: This is a question that should have been directed to the government, not the party, because the nitty-gritty? of the work being done could be best explained by government officials. However, we are confident that a solution is not far away, because the Governor is working hard to find a solution.
?Question: While you accuse the PDP of unleashing terror on the state the PDP in return is claiming that your party should be held responsible for violence in many parts of the state. So, who is to believe?
Answer: If anybody would claim to know the history of violence in Osun, the media is in the best position and possibly have the best record of violence in Osun since 2003 to date. The big question that is still being asked today is that, who killed Bola Ige, the former Minister of Justice Attorney-General of the Federation? Those who want to refresh their memory should go back to that event of the villany of violence, associated with the PDP in the state. Aregbesola’s coming to governance in 2010 ushered peace in the state of Osun. If you doubt this, ask the Commissioners of Police since then till now. Then a true picture will emerge to an unbiased minds as to who is or are the masterminds and perpetrators of violence in the State of Osun.
In a situation where both sides are accusing each other of violence, the evidence will be clear in a thorough-going investigation that will reveal the truth. And that’s a challenge for the media anyway.
BY ADESOJI ADENIYI, NATION