N34bn Bailout Fund: Why ICPC Absolved Osun Govt Of Diversion

By Ismaeel Uthman

The dismissal of the petition against Governor Rauf Aregbesola by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) over the alleged diversion of the N34.9 billion given to Osun State by the Federal Government has been attributed to the failure of those making the allegation to substantiate any of the claims.

The ICPC absolved the state government of any diversion of the fund, saying no fraction of the petition was substantiated, thereby making it to lack in merit.

The Federal Government had in 2015 given all the states in Nigeria, the fund to settle outstanding salaries and allowances of their workers being owed by about 27 states due to the drop in allocation to states, owing to corruption, oil theft and drop in the prices of crude oil.

A pressure group in the state, the Coalition of Civil Societies for the Emancipation of the People of Osun State had subsequently petitioned the ICPC, accusing Governor Rauf Aregbesola of diverting the bailout fund released to the state.

But the ICPC had in a letter referenced ICPC/INV/GBP/SG.2/520 and dated August 24, 2017, cleared the state government, saying, the bailout fund was actually expended on payment of salaries and pension of both the state and local government workers and the cadets of the Osun State Youth Empowerment Scheme (OYES).

The letter, addressed to the Secretary of the State Government was sent with the heading, “Re: Request for probe on diversion and possible misuse of Salary Bailout Fund of Osun State. Save the Soul of Workers and Pensioners in Osun State”.

The letter was signed by the Head of Department of Investigation, Adebayo A. Kayode.

It reads in part, “The above case bordering on diversion and misuse of bailout fund and allowance to effect the full payment of all outstanding salaries, allowances, pensions and gratuities owed to Osun State civil servants and retirees contrary to the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences (ICPC) Act 2000 was reported to the commission and same had been investigated conclusively with no fraction substantiated.

“A sum of N34,988,999,000 was released to the State of Osun on 31st August, 2015 which was expended on the payment of salaries, civil pensions, OYES cadets stipend and allowances and local government salaries and pension.

“In view of paragraph 2 above, it is clear that the bailout fund was not diverted but utilised for its original purpose, therefore, the commission has set aside the case for lack of merit.”

Reacting to the letter, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Adelani Baderinwa said apart from being vindicated on the allegation, the ICPC has also confirmed the financial prudence, accountability and sincerity of Governor Rauf Aregbesola.

Baderinwa urged those he described as bizzy body and political sponsored pressure groups to desist from writing unnecessary petitions against Aregbesola on the platform lies and fabricated stories just to suit their paymasters.

He opined that the security and anti-graft agencies should be prosecuting groups or individuals submitting frivolous petitions to them for political purposes like the dismissed petition against Aregbesola.

EDITORIAL: Bailout Funds: Osun Government Vindicated

In a very tight operating fiscal climate, oil producing, landlocked state of Osun has not only held its own, it has punched above its weight. Vindication for Governor Aregbesola’s financial prudence has now come from the Independent Corrupt practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC).

The reaction to the allegations of funds diversion made against the government of the State of Osun was unambiguous. The ICPC in a letter referenced ICPC/INV/GBP/SG.2/520 and dated August 24, 2017, cleared the state government, saying, the bailout fund was actually expended on payment of salaries and pension of both the state and local government workers and the cadets of the Osun State Youth Empowerment Scheme (OYES).

The letter, addressed to the Secretary of the State Government was sent with the heading, “Re: Request for probe on diversion and possible misuse of Salary Bailout Fund of Osun State. Save the Soul of Workers and Pensioners in Osun State” and was signed by the Head of Department of Investigation, Adebayo A. Kayode.

It reads in part, “The above case bordering on diversion and misuse of bailout fund and allowance to effect the full payment of all outstanding salaries, allowances, pensions and gratuities owed to Osun State civil servants and retirees contrary to the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences (ICPC) Act 2000 was reported to the commission and same had been investigated conclusively with no fraction substantiated.

“A sum of N34,988,999,000 was released to the State of Osun on 31st August, 2015 which was expended on the payment of salaries, civil pensions, OYES cadets stipend and allowances and local government salaries and pension.

“In view of paragraph 2 above, it is clear that the bailout fund was not diverted but utilised for its original purpose, therefore, the commission has set aside the case for lack of merit.”

This is a fulsome public relations endorsement for the state of Osun government as one can get. We take it that the original enquiry by the Coalition of Civil Societies for the Emancipation of the People of Osun State was not born out of mischief. This means that with the clarification from the ICPC, they should come out with a very reigning endorsement of the fiscal prudence of the state of Osun government.

It must also be noted that it has taken great managerial sagacity for the state of Osun government to have continued its much lauded social intervention programmes in a season of stress. That the federal government is now using the template of the State of Osun for its own programmes says it all.

We have no alternative than to give full marks to the fiscal prudence of the Governor of the State of Osun has he continues to use his vast expertise to steer the ship of state through turbulent waters caused by a nationwide economic down turn and hampered by Nigeria’s debilitating quasi-federalism.

Governors Seek Fresh Bailout From Nigerian Government

The 36 States Governors of the federation have asked the Federal Government for a bailout, in the form of budget support.

Ebonyi state Governor, Dave Umahi, disclosed this to reporters on Thursday at the end of the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.

Umahi said the request is meant to assist Governors offset staff salary arrears.

The Governor also revealed that most of the Governors persuaded Finance Minister, Kemi Adoesun, to find ways of sustaining the provision of budget support to the states.

Umahi said such support is needed, “especially when the amount that accrues to the states from the federation account is less than N600 billion”.

“We came to the understanding that every month, if the total shareable revenue in the federation account is less than N600billion, the minister of finance will give each state budget support.

“We concluded that in the last 12 months and that continued for the second year. States have done very well; some states have been able to pay their accumulated salary debts and then also increased their commitment to infrastructure and generation of revenue.

“However, from July, that was not paid and in the month of August, I think about seven states were paid because according to the minister, other states did not comply with the set down rules, the most outstanding of that was the non-remittance of VAT from the states.

“So those seven states have been paid but more states have complied but we requested that those states that have complied should be paid.”

The request comes at a time the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) accused some Governors of mismanaging previous bailout funds.

Only on Thursday did officials of the anti-graft agencies arrest two top officials of the Ekiti state government over alleged misappropriation of bailout funds.

 

Bailout: PDP Allegation Is Self-Serving; Hollow

By Semiu Okanlawon

Let the PDP wailing wailers and mischief makers save themselves the trouble on how the bailout was expended since it is beyond their comprehension. But what that demonstrates practically is that the real workers in Osun and the entire people of this state have better understanding of the workings of this government and its financial prudence.

On the receipt of the bailout funds, the modalities for the payment of the outstanding salaries were spelt out and how the state would proceed in its management of the available resources in an MOU with the Osun labour in the most transparent manner. Could the leadership of the Nigerian Labour Congress, Joint Negotiating Council and the Trade Union Congress have agreed to the payment terms if the process was not transparent enough and against the interests of the Osun workers?

Today, the PDP has accused Aregbesola of paying contractors for the MKO Abiola International Airport from the bailout. This same party has suddenly forgotten that in its untidy fabrications last year, it was the contractor handling the Oba Adesoji Aderemi Second By-Pass way Slava Yeditepe it accused Aregbesola of paying. Months after, it is the contractor for the airport. Liars, they say, should have good memory.

For the first time in this country, a government put in place a committee for the allocation of available resources comprising representatives of the Labour, government and headed by one of the best and most radical labour leaders ever produced in this part of the world, Comrade Hassan Summonu.

How else does a government demonstrate good faith and openness.

The irony must not be lost on Nigerians. rather than the Aregbesola administration or any APC governor for that matter, it is the PDP that is synonymous with sleaze, and nothing demonstrates this better than the mind-blowing, hair-splitting revelations on how the PDP brought Nigeria to her knees through its Kleptomaniac bleeding of this country.

History will judge Aregbesola for taking Osun out of the woods and giving it a new life.

We have said it and we repeat that with the resources available to this government, even if the Aregbsola administration had busied itself only with provision of infrastructure such as roads and schools, he would still pass as one of the best governors in Nigeria. His achievements outside those two such as social welfare, security, health, youth employment and agriculture and tourism beat imagination and far outweigh the capacity of the Osun resources. The PDP has no moral platform to question Aregbesola. Its years of reign were marked by sleaze and poor performance.

Semiu Okanlawon is the Communications Bureau Chief, State of Osun Governor’s office.