Honourable Adejare Bello was the speaker of the 3rd and 4th House of Assembly in the State House of Assembly. In this interview with Shina Abubakar, he bears his mind on the seventh years administration of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola and other issues in the state.
OSDF: You were the Speaker of the Osun House of Assembly when Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola was declared Governor, seven years on, how would you assess the performance of the governor so far?
Adejare: To God be the Glory that we have come this far, I also thank God that I was the Speaker at the time and it lasted for the first six months of his administration. Sincerely, Ogbeni Aregbesola would have been a fantastic administrator if God had given him the gift of listening to other peoples’ counsel. His major deficiency is not heeding to advice, besides that, he meant well for the state, he wanted to develop Osun in a hurry.
I told him at the beginning that Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola had the intention to embark on lofty projects but for the paucity of funds, even the loan he obtained from the UBA, that is N18.3billion, the House of Assembly had to force him to obtain the loan to embark on zonal roads, so when the Governor spoke of loan, I warned him to be wary of such steps because the state is not buoyant enough to incur such a huge debt.
As at last August, I know that the DMO office put the state debt profile at N179 billion apart from other debts such as the one obtain from the stock market, Sukuk, and debt-owed local contractors, I am certain the total debt profile of the state cannot be less than N250 billion and where are the projects the loan is expended on?
The major road projects this administration embarked upon are the Old Garage Ila-Odo road, Gbongan-Akoda dualisation and the East-Bye Pass road. Besides the East-bye pass road which the administration has done creditably well by reaching about 50-60% completion, the two other roads are merely about 30% completion even after seven years of the administration. The Gbongan-Akoda road is even worse, seven years after awarding the contract, the project is still within Gbongan, that is absurd, the poser to the administration is where is all the loan because the cost of the three road projects is not up to N60bn (Gbongan-Akoda; N29billion, Osogbo Ila-Odo; N14 billion and East bye pass; N14billion) that is if the amounts are not affected by variations. When you look at another major projects that we are all proud of that is the mega schools, is funded by counterpart fund between the state government and federal government.
OSDF: Cuts in…Sorry, the High Schools were funded with the Sukuk loan
Adejare: Assuming you are correct that the Mega schools were executed with the sukuk loan, the government claimed it would build 120 of those schools, today, to my knowledge, only about 20 of the schools have been commissioned, where are the others? What did we expend the loans on in the last seven years in the state. For me, the governor is just not listening to other stakeholders in the state which, in my view, is the reason we are in this financial mess at this time in the history of the state.
I am also of the view that the decision of the governor to run this state like Lagos added to the problem the state finds itself. Lagos state can afford to borrow money at any rate; it has the financial strength to embark on such route unlike our dear state that is still to a large extent an agrarian state or even a rural state.
OSDF: Are you saying the Mega Schools built by the government were inappropriate despite the fact that the schools have been adjudged world class and can produce quality student?
Adejare: You cannot adjudge a school as world class because of the structure or the building, schools are judged based on their performance or output. The position of the state in the Senior School Certificate Examination (SSCE) is an attestation to the world class standards of our schools in the country. You see, most of these mega schools have not been utilised up to 50% of their capacity.
The Wole Soyinka High School in Ejigbo is built to accommodate 3500 students and the whole of Ejigbo Township do not have such huge numbers of high school students, while those in the adjoining towns cannot afford to be walking to the town to attend classes. The same scenario exists at the Seventh Day High school in Ede, Osogbo and the one in Ilesa that was recently commissioned.
OSDF: Cuts in…But Ondo State also build mega schools…
Adejare: Please, I don’t want to talk about Ondo state, the only places I know very well there are Ondo town and Akure. I am talking of Osun that I know the terrain too well and you are talking of Ondo State. I don’t know what they are doing there and how it works for them, but, here in osun where I know all the wards and what affects us most, I ll tell you the mega schools should not be our priority because the building are under-utilised and the workability of the policy was not well thought of before it was implemented.
OSDF: In recent times, the APC have always made it known publicly that it has performed better than all the previous administration, do you have a cause to disagree with the position?
Adejare: Well, in all honesty, in terms of physical structure, the seven years of this administration compared to others, it has done well, but the poser they need to answer is at what cost. The Oyinlola-led administration that I was a part of left a debt of only N7billion and our achievement speaks for itself, even the schools built through the Constituency projects is more than 1000 classrooms of three rooms, while local Government were also commissioned to build classrooms across the state; the administration dualised the Akoda-Osogbo road, Dele Yes Sir to Oke Fia dualisation, 28Km road network in Odo-Otin Local Government as well as other projects across the state. All of these were executed at moderate prices unlike now that a kilometre of road goes for about a billion naira. So in general, PDP’s projects are cost effective unlike what is happening now.
OSDF: Cuts in…May be you are not considering foreign exchange
Adejare: You cannot bring that into this discussion, as at the time the contracts were awarded the ranges were about the same between N150 to a dollar during Oyinlola and N200 when Aregbesola took over. And the major product used in these projects is cement because it is central to all construction projects.
OSDF: The PDP that is supposed to be the major opposition party to keep the ruling party on its heels is consumed in internal crisis, do you see the PDP emerging from this crisis at all?
Adejare: In all honesty, the PDP in the state is in a serious crisis presently, when you called me on Monday I was in Abuja seeking a way to resolve the crisis and we hope to get over it very soon. I want to assure you that with the crisis or not, the PDP will bounce back to rule the state in 2018.
OSDF: How do you intend to do that?
Adejare: Honestly I don’t know, but what is certain to me is that we will take over the administration of this state in 2018, God has revealed that to me.
OSDF: Would your party participate in the local government poll schedule to hold in January next year?
Adejare: Yes and No. we have registered to signify our readiness to take part in the process, but the guideline as to the parliamentary system, to us, is an affront on the provision of the constitution and we may seek legal interpretation of the constitution on the issue.
OSDF: As a former speaker, do you believe the amendment done to the local government administration law by the present legislature is valid?
Adejare: What the lawmakers did to that law was a nullity but when it is not yet time to challenge their decision we watch on but as it is now we would go to the court to seek their opinion on the law because it run at variance to the constitution of the land and no legislative body whether at the state or federal level can pass a law that is at variant with the constitution of the land.