By Ismaeel Uthman
The Governor of the state of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has again come out open up on the total debt being owed by the state, saying that all the loans taken would be settled by 2019.
Aregbesola explained that the conventional loan would be settled in 2019 while the N11.4bn Sukuk would be fully paid back in 2020.
The governor made the disclosure during an interactive programme tagged “Ogbeni Till Daybreak” held last weekend in Osogbo, the state capital.
When asked on exact amount the state owes, the governor directed the Accountant General of the State, Mr Kolawole Akintayo to respond and give the accurate and total amount the state is owing.
Akintayo stated that the total debt left for the state to pay was N143.6bn, against the false figures being circulated by members of the opposition in the state.
The Accountant General said: “Total debt of the State of Osun was N171.4bn in the last seven years. A sum of N28bn had been paid, leaving a balance of N143.6bn debt.”
Corroborating Akintayo’s statement, Aregbesola said that Osun will settle all the debt in 2019, saying “there will be no kobo left of the N30bn conventional loan in 2019, by September 2020, N11.4bn Sukuk would have been settled.”
Aregbesola said the debt profile of the state is not as bad as being speculated, maintaining that the loans were taken to finance capital projects for the development of the state.
He said: “The reason we borrowed for infrastructural development and not for investment is simple. In a liberal economy like ours, government has no business doing business, the responsibility of government is to provide enabling environment for businesses to thrive.
Commenting on the modulated salary, Aregbesola said that welfare of the workers was paramount to him, just as he appreciated the understanding of the workers, especially during the economic crises that hit the nation and affected the state.
He, however, said that his government has been faithful to the agreement reached with the labour union through the Joint Negotiating Council, noting that political appointees are also being paid modulated salary.
The Governor said: “Osun PS earns salary more than the Deputy Governor of the state. I don’t receive salary and I will not receive forever. We have good plan for all the workers in the state. As we pay modulated salary to our workers, so do we pay the political appointees. And if the political appointees said I don’t give them money, it is true. We are in a state of economic emergency.”
Aregbesola maintained that none of his programmes have failed.
Aregbesola explained further that his government did not promise automatic employment into the state civil service for the 40, 000 Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (OYES) volunteers, but creating a platform for them to be self-reliant and be gainfully employed.
“We never promised to employ all 40, 000 participants of OYES. Let us be factual, where would government fix them into? No government can employ all its citizens. What we promised was to create opportunities for the best of them in government and outside of government which we have continued to do up till today.”