EFCC Swoop On Osun

If there ever was a link between illegitimacy and corruption, Osun State was it. The Oyinlola government is unknown to the electorate that it claimed voted it into power. A stranger in power, especially a brazen one who stole the people’s vote killing and maiming along the way, feels no compunction about willfully gobbling the people’s resources.

This is the correct but unfortunate profile of Olagunsoye Oyinlola as governor. That is why the swoop of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on the state is highly welcome. But the swoop is coming too late, even if it is better late than never.

The very fact that the EFCC has invited top officials of the administration to answer to petitions against them has proved a great release in this state, held prostrate for five years now by an unconscionable band sworn wholly to greed. Almost all the opposition parties have risen in unison, asking for the EFCC to move in and save Osun State from further plunder.

The Alliance of Collaborating Political Parties (ACPP), in a joint petition dated August 11, 2008 to Mrs. Farida Waziri, the EFCC chairman, spoke of areas where Oyinlola and his aides have allegedly stolen the state blind.

These areas include the alleged scam that the school feeding programme, a UNICEF scheme with pilot in Osun, but which the government has allegedly turned into an illicit cow, constituency projects at the local government level that has allegedly become a huge racket and alleged illegal deductions from local councils under the guise of contributions to running the new Osun State University (Uniosun), among others.

The constituency projects, the ACPP alleged, were a cream-off through and through. “Between 2003 and 2005 in the local government system, constituency development projects funds were paid directly to selected councillors,” the ACPP alleged of something the Oyinlola government is fast attaining notoriety, given that a similar attempt was made to corrupt state legislators. “Cheques were issued in the names of elected chairmen and councillors to execute constituency projects as against the rule.”

Given that these so-called “elected” council officials were also rigged into office in a laughable but murderous sham that Oyinlola staged as “election”, it is easy to see why they feel no qualms feeding fat on the people and worsening the under-development problems of Osun State. Between them, the 322 council officials allegedly blew N995 million!

Aside from the constituency project scam, the ACPP also alleged illegal N360 million monthly deductions over 12 months from council funds to fund the development of a state website that has ceased to see the daylight. “We believe this is a fraud,” ACPP charged, “and we implore your commission to investigate this deduction.”

Then there is the security vote racket – and again, the fishing pond would appear the inexhaustible council funds. The 30 councils have allegedly been induced to pool 1.1 per cent of their earnings from the federation account for “general security”, aside from another N75 million as equity for “small-scale industries that do not exist anywhere.” Besides, there is the Spring Finance Limited, an alleged profit-making venture in which the councils were not shareholders, and yet were allegedly made to cough out N30 million monthly to run.

On the school feeding pilot projects, the councils are also alleged to have been forced to cough out N42 million monthly, even if in the Unicef-Federal Government project, Osun was picked as one of the pilot states, before expanding the project nationwide.

Another alleged scam rocking the state, which OSUN DEFENDER had had to write a previous editorial, is the Uniosun alleged scam, in which the councils have also been compelled to pool funds as their own counterpart funding for the running of the school. Much as no one would oppose such state-council cooperation toward a common good as the education of the citizens (as we stated in our previous editorial), it is reprehensible that such a citizen-benefit could have been mere veneer for unconscionable graft now being alleged.

Now that the EFCC has intervened to investigate these allegations, it should put all its crack investigative skills to use to save this state from the alleged greed of its rulers – those who never won elections to rule, but now allegedly plunder the public till, maybe as revenge for their massive rejection by the people.

Should anyone be found complicit in these alleged scams, we trust the anti-sleaze body will bring such characters to justice – and fast too. That is the only way to save this state, which though has little money, even that little is being willfully drained.