By Wale Bolorunduro
I am happy the current government of Osun has owned up to its previous covert operation of giving false information to the social media journalists on its loan figures and monthly loan repayment. Though, it was its official response, only to the Part I of my article (out of the three-part publications). The response was done without knowing that I had done breakdown analysis of the monthly loan repayment deductions in the Part II published yesterday (17 March, 2022). So, rather than waiting to see the expository, the government rushed out without covering its rear. Yes, I employed Tunde Adejumo as the Director General of Osun DMO because I thought he would remain a professional, irrespective of political pressure and that he would know that he was not capable of holding out in official capacity, because his tenor has expired since last year October or November 2021. But if this dirty monkey job as a pawn, will help him to secure another term, so be it. I will want him to continue in the office because he would still be useful in the near future because “omo buruku ni ojo rere ti e”.
I believe Tunde Adejumo as an expired DG of Osun Debt Management Office can talk because the current Governor (Chief Gboyega Oyetola) was the Chairman of the Board of Osun DMO, when he was appointed based on my recommendation. He was out of job having being sacked by the university where he was teaching after he left Diamond Bank. He had no experience in Project Finance or Public Finance but I believed we could train him and which we did. I wish he can remain truthful to his conscience and remain a professional. I have heard of the frustration of the DG DMO and possibly he might not be getting data from the Accountant General of the state on the deductions and fresh debt of the state.
Now to the issues. The state law that set up Osun DMO was a sponsored Bill under my tenure as a Commissioner of Finance and it requires the DG to publish the public debt of Osun. So I wonder why the DMO has not published the debt profile of the state for the past three years, especially, when the loan figure of N141bn given to the public by Chief Gboyega Oyetola during the 2018 governorship debate, changed to fathomed N200bn. Do you think anybody will take you serious for just throwing figure around? I have accused the current government of doing fuzzy mathematics with Osun public debt figure and here the DMO goes, bingo by mentioning items that cannot be described as secured payables as part of the public debt. The DMO didn’t even mention the amounts. It is a voodoo accounting; conjuring “strange items” without figures and throwing away ethics. Haba, let the DG DMO get hold of himself now. He is exposing Governor Oyetola who he is supposed to be protecting. Conjuring Governor’s approvals that never got to final due process or contract that never got to the mobilisation stage is not only weird, it is highly unprofessional and shows moral bankruptcy on the part of the current government of Osun. If this is the firewall you are referring to, then, we have broken it. In the last three years of Oyetola’s administration, we know many approvals that have not been cash backed, will you be adding them to Oyetola’s loan portfolio? This reductionist approach is not sustainable and will not remove the issue, which is if Oyetola loan figure has gone up to N200bn from N171bn (N141bn domestic loan confirmed by him and the N30bn external loan), it must have gone up, solely under the present Governor Oyetola and the DMO. Even at that, if figures are attached to these “strange items” the DMO introduced, will it add up to N30bn, their fudge factor. Something else would have to be added in the fuzzy mathematics.
Now the DG of Osun DMO, representing the government, has now included outstanding gratuities and pension items as part of the loan, which he described as “domestic non-borrowing debt”. Although the accounting standard used was not mentioned but based on the breakdowns, gratuities and pension were included. These are unsecured retired workers payables. Do you even know the figures as at 26th November, 2018 and even at that, adding it to the public debt of the state is not only mischievous, it is voodoo accounting and a deliberate attempt to arrive at the fudge factor, desired by the government. Aregbesola’s administration had huge pension and gratuities payables that he inherited and he cleared the substantial part. He also pension-rolled many of the retirees, including all the staff that exited under old pension scheme, while gratuities payment was allocated monthly sum. I cannot remember any previous administration, who has added this item to public debt and when Oyetola exits, we hope he would audit the claims and include it in the public debt, he shall be passing to the next generation.
The DG Osun DMO has exposed himself as the pawn in the game to sex up the loan figure, so as to stain Aregbesola and to serve as soft landing for the current government, which is currently facing election and the needs to give account of his stewardship. For Tunde Adejumo to use Gross Statutory allocation, which is not the only revenues from federation accounts, as basis for his net negative receipt in January is not only grossly irresponsible, but it shows the perfidy, which has become the hallmark of the current Osun government. What of VAT revenue of the state? Just because you wanted to show that you received negative allocation, you left out VAT revenue that is average N500m monthly, in the last 12 months Why is the DMO dissembling and does the DG thinks everybody is a fool and will not know VAT is part of the revenues or monthly receipt and if the VAT revenue is added, there will not be negative receipt anywhere, because what comes in is net. “Dokodoko ro wipe gbogbo Eniyan Lafoju” (a prostitute in the house thinks everybody is blind). Now the DMO has exposed the current Osun government by this deliberate error of commission that net receipt from federation accounts is not negative. One day, they may tell us local government allocation is zero allocation and so we better start asking them to swear under the oath that LG revenues from federation account is less than N3bn monthly in the last three months.
It is better not to go low with this people because the press statement of the DG could drive the analytical minds to that level. He started by saying the initial direct deduction was N2.61billion and that after paying down the two bonds, it came down to N1.8bn but the monthly deductions on the two bonds was N0.96bn. So, how can the resulting figure be N1.8b, when it is supposed to be N1.65bn? Simple addition and deduction! This is a clear case of instability and I put it to the DMO DG that the direct deductions in the first four months of Oyetola’s administration was N2.42bn before the end of the deductions on the two bonds.
However, we can see that the Osun government as represented by the DG DMO has also changed its total loan repayment from “over N72bn” to “over N70bn”. Let me remind the DG DMO, he might have forgotten, that like some other former commissioners, Aregbesola asked me to stay back as his personal support adviser from December 2014 to December 2016. Mentioned any meeting (official and unofficial) that the DG DMO attended in that period that I didn’t attend. The restructuring of the loan into FGN bond and the Paris Club refunds were originated and closed with my advisory/support service, which was purely altruistic. The DG DMO worked with me at back-end on the FGN bond, but it was Aregbesola and my humble self that went to Abuja severally to sell it. I recommended the consultant for Paris Club refund and provided the strategies. It was Aregbesola then that vigorously worked on it until it was approved in December 2016. I served three years and four months as substantive commissioner of finance and another two years in Personal Advisory Capacity, making five years and four months. Where I come from, we don’t abandon our own. Aregbesola didn’t appoint commissioners for his second term until June 2017. So, they served one year and four months with him in his second term. Therefore, without being immodest, I am a deeper repertoire of the financial data of Aregbesola in his eight-year governance.
On the monthly loan deductions, it is unfortunate that the DMO and those who are “playing ostrich” after serving as the “main part” of Aregbesola’s tenure for eight years have not read the Part II of my article before putting forward their bad card. I will direct them to go and read it. I have already addressed all the loan repayment deductions figures they were throwing around surreptitiously before, which they have now owned up (now) as the fabricator. We have said the current monthly loan repayment is N1.5bn on all public debt items, the DG DMO has said N1.8bn, let them give breakdown of loan repayment deduction on each of these public debt items, since they are fixed monthly repayments. They have convoluted the figure so much and they will have to do multiple de-convolution of the sexed-up figure. Until then, nobody will take them serious. They should not blame Aregbesola for their “other deductions” on IGR which they are using to pay their contractors. I will submit for the umpteenth time that any figure that omits reversals made as a result of loan forbearances by Federal Government and cash adjustments by the Office of Accountant General of the Federation shall be dishonorable and shall be further exposed.
Now the parting gift, I have always praised Governor Oyetola for increasing the IGR but he wouldn’t take it because he doesn’t want Osun people to start asking for patronages, roads and other dividends of democracy. That the annual IGR is now matching the annual public debt repayment is expected, after 11 years of progressive developments of Osun because we are no longer in the short or medium term. At the short run, in 2012, when we were at the peak funding requirement, we couldn’t rely on the N3.6bn annual IGR alone, we took advantage of the Investment and Securities Act that allows states to leverage their total revenue up to 50 percent. If any rule had been broken, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) wouldn’t have approved our bonds in 2012 and 2013.
Wale Bolorunduro, PhD, former Commissioner of Finance, Economic Planning and Budget writes from 6B Lase Ogunleye Street, off Fadahunsi Avenue, Ilesa, State of Osun.