THERE are controversies on the amount received by the State Government of Osun as refund from the Federal Government on the FG roads constructed by Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola as the governor of the state as then was. But there is no controversy on the fact that the administration of Mr. Adegboyega Oyetola has received (or is receiving) refund for the FG roads constructed by his predecessor.
Before now, there had been a grave silence from the State Government on the refund. The government had kept the refund away from members of the public until the outburst by a former Commissioner for Home Affairs, Culture and Tourism in the State of Osun, Alhaji Sikiru Ayedun.
Ayedun claimed that the Oyetola administration had received a sum of N48bn as refund from FG on the roads constructed by Aregbesola, but decided to keep silent on it deliberately.
The Ife-born politician, who spoke at a meeting of The Osun Progressives (TOP), a caucus of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Osogbo, last Thursday, stated that the State Government received the N48bn refund in three tranches for the FG roads constructed by Aregbesola.
He said: “The Oyetola administration has received N48 billion refund from the Federal Government for roads constructed by Aregbesola, but they did not disclose it. They kept talking about salary. The refund was collected in three tranches; did you hear it from the state radio? They would not disclose it. The last tranche was N4.8 billion when Rivers State was given N78 billion”.
Ayedun’s statement put the State Government on the hot seat to defend the N48bn refund claim. At first, the Commissioner for Works and Transport, Engr. Remi Omowaiye, took to his Facebook page on Friday to debunk Ayedun’s claim. Omowaiye stated that there is no how the FG would give N48bn to Osun as refund for a project that is lesser than the amount. Omowaiye posted: “The total contract sum for all FG road projects in Osun is N38bn. Gbongan-Akoda was at 29 per cent completion while Osogbo-Ila-Odo was 49 per cent completion as at November 26, 2018. FG is obviously not father Christmas, they will not pay for work not done.” When asked by a commentator on the post on how much the State Government had received as refund, Omowaiye said “a total of N13bn”.
Ayedun’s claim, in a video that went viral on the social media, generated reactions from members of the public, particularly between loyalists and supporters of Aregbesola and Oyetola. The State Government of Osun, through the Commissioner for Finance, Bola Oyebamiji, officially reacted to Ayedun’s claim through a press release on Saturday. In the release, the State Government admitted collecting a sum of N11.9 million refunds from FG for Aregbesola’s road projects, even as it said the claim by the former commissioner is capable of misleading the public, as it misrepresents facts on the state of refund by the Federal Government to the state.
The statement reads in part, “In setting the records straight, it is important to emphatically and explicitly state that such claims, as presented in the video under reference, is capable of creating disharmony, strife and bad blood within the progressive family.
“The claim that the sum of N48billion had been received by the Oyetola-led administration as refund on federal roads constructed within the state is untrue. The total contract sum of all federal road projects embarked upon by the Osun State Government, as approved by the Federal Ministry of Works, is N38billion. It is therefore against logic that the sum of N48bn will be paid by the FG for projects which total contract sum equals N38bn. The projects in question, as at November, 2018, on the average, were less than 35% completion.
“Similarly, the total refund by the FG to the state as today, in three tranches, stood at N11.9bn based on the project delivered by both contractors. It is imperative to state that the FG refund of N11.9bn has been judiciously utilized and ploughed back into four (4) inherited road projects embarked upon by the previous administration contrary to the unsubstantiated claims by Mr. Ayedun that the refund is being used to pay full salaries to civil servants in the state.”
However, Ayedun, who appeared on a radio programme on Monday, admitted that the figure he quoted might not be true, just as he argued that the State Government ought to have come forward to declare the amount it received as refunds on the FG roads constructed by Aregbesola before now.
He said: “I raised three fundamental issues: that N48 billion had been received from theFederal Government for roads constructed by the past administration in Osun, that the Sukuk fund and conventional loans taken by Ogbeni Aregbesola’s administration had been paid off and that if what I have said is not right, we are now in the public court. The onus is on the government to prove it that they are not in receipt of that amount.
“It is not a matter of saying I’m lying. They have already confirmed two or three things that I said: The government said it had gotten a refund on the FG road and that Sukuk and some loans had been paid off. So, if we now differ on figures, the onus is on the government to come out and tell us how much it received. No matter the value, even if it is one naira the State Government has gotten as refund on the roads the past administration constructed, my expectation is for them is to declare that they have taken so-so amount as refund on the debt because they are always talking about the huge debt the last administration left behind. Out of that debt is this refund that you have gotten and you kept silent on it.
“When the last payment was made on FG roads, Wike, a PDP Governor in River State, got N78bn. He did an advertorial that Federal Government refunded N78 billion on this road of N150 billion. That he wanted it to be in the public knowledge of Rivers people. That is a PDP Governor!
“Whatever the administration of Governor Oyetola has received as refunds, they should have let the public know before now. It is a moral burden that they collected Osun’s people money and they refused to disclose it to them and they are just talking of debt.”
In reaction to the controversy, a socio-political group, the Progressive-Minded Forum, said Oyetola would have saved himself from the controversy, had he declared that the State Government was receiving refund on the FG road project executed by Aregbesola’s administration.
The group, in a press statement on Monday, said non-disclosure of the project refund puts Oyetola’s integrity and credibility in question, stating that a transparent government would have come open when receiving the refunds before now.
Signed by the Coordinator of the group, Mr. Sunday Oriowo, the statement reads: “We are compelled to join the discussion on the refund of billions of naira received by Governor Gboyega Oyetola from the Federal Government on the Federal roads constructed by his predecessor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola.
“It is shocking that the State Government received such amount of money and decided to keep quiet – it is shameful and hypocritical. The forced admittance by Governor Gboyega Oyetola’s administration that it had received a sum of N11.9 billion refund for the Federal roads constructed by Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, when he was the governor of the state, is very embarrassing to the government and the good people of the State of Osun.
“The Governor should come forward and summon the courage to declare the actual amount that the State Government has received on the assets left behind by Aregbesola. We believe that there are other accruals to the state that the Oyetola administration is not disclosing because of the politics of bitterness the Governor and his team are playing. It is morally wrong for Oyetola not to disclose the refund on the projects executed by Aregbesola when they are bitterly casting the previous administration on the controversial debt profile of the state.
“Instead of the misleading notion that all Aregbesola left for the Oyetola administration is debt, a fair and sincere person with conscience would have come out to state that the former governor also left assets that have so far yielded N11.9 billion. We are sure that there are other billions of naira that the Oyetola’s administration would have collected as refund for some of the Aregbesola’s interventions in health, agriculture, education etc.
“As a matter of fact, we know that the much-talked-about rehabilitation of Primary Health Centres in the state was part of the assets left behind by Aregbesola. It is a known fact that the Aregbesola administration won the $20million Save One Million Lives (SOMIL), a World Bank Project, at the tail-end of his administration in 2018. The fund is currently being used by the Oyetola administration to rehabilitate Primary Health Centres and presenting it as a major achievement without giving credit to Aregbesola.
“We challenge the State Government to make full disclosure of amounts it has received on the projects done by Aregbesola in roads, health and other sectors. It is obvious that the Oyetola administration is reaping the profits of Aregbesola’s projects and programmes, but does not have the courage to disclose it because of the politics of hatred and pull-him-down being played against his benefactor.”
Ayedun’s claim on the FG project refund is a timeous outburst needed to correct the impression that all what Aregbesola’s administration left behind was debt. However, the defence of the State Government on the refund is a day late and a dollar short. When a defence is a day late and a dollar short, it means it is too late and too feeble to achieve the desired effect.