…Warns Mischievous Opposition Against Media Conspiracy
The Governor of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has cleared the air on the alleged diversion of bailout funds given to the state by the Federal Government last year to pay workers’ salary arrears.
Aregbesola also denounced the purported allegation leveled against his government on his refusal to use the funds on the purpose being meant for.
Governor Aregbesola stated this while addressing state workers on the occasion marking 2016 Workers Day Celebration, at Osogbo City Stadium.
Aregbesola who described the allegation as a prepared concoction of a mischievous opposition and media conspiracy, said the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) had never indicted the state on bailout diversion.
Aregbesola who frowned at a section of the media allegedly being sponsored by the opposition on blackmailing and propaganda, acknowledged the efforts of some media practitioners who reported the matter accurately.
The Governor inferred that the ICPC reports indicated that the data it published on disbursement of bailout funds by states was as at October last year, adding that the reports were given to the commission by the state.
He wondered how the state could have been indicted on such sensitive issues which it engineered, emphasizing that the anti-corruption body has written to state affirming again that the information it gave out covered only October 2015.
Aregbesola reiterated that the state can never diverted the funds, having understood and knowing fully well that it was not sufficient for the state needs to meet up with its salary obligations.
He said, “I want to also assure you, contrary to the insinuation being made by our traducers, who claimed we diverted the bailout funds, that nothing of such happened.
“The Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) never indicted us. This is the concoction of a mischievous opposition and their media conspirators.
“Other media agencies reported the ICPC accurately that the data it published on disbursement of bailout funds by states was as at October last year and this was given to them by us.
“How could we then have indicted ourselves? I am happy that ICPC has cleared the air. The anti-corruption body has written to us affirming again that the information it gave out covered only October 2015, saying that it never indicted us since no evidence exists that we applied the funds to any other matter outside of workers salaries.
“I must also let you know that there is no way we could have diverted the funds, knowing that it was not sufficient for our needs in the first place.
“Although the bailout given to us helped a great deal in clearing the arrears of salaries and pensions up till January this year, of course, with the understanding and cooperation of Labour, it could not have sufficed for our needs before then and now.
“We demanded for N64.3 billion to cover outstanding salaries, pension and gratuities up till June 2015 for the state workers and N23.8 billion to cover the salaries, pension and gratuities for the local government workers for the same period.
“However, we got N25.8 billion for state and N9.1 billion for local government, totalling N34.9 billion. So, we can all see that this is a far cry from what we needed and asked for. We got this far only because of exceptional financial engineering, extreme prudence and commendable cooperation of Labour.
“I want to assure you all that the worst is over and we shall be out of the woods very soon, sooner than expected.
“We have had very fruitful meetings with President Muhammadu Buhari who has been very concerned and has given us his assurance of every assistance we need in our immediate, middle and long term plans”, Aregbesola affirmed.
Speaking on the sorry state of the nation’s economy, Aregbesola attributed the challenges facing the nation to administrative insensitivity and financial recklessness of the past administration.
According to him, “We were told by the immediate past regime that 400,000 barrels of crude oil were being stolen daily. This will amount to N5.78 trillion if a barrel sells for $100 and a dollar exchanges for N200. If this has been remitted to the federation account, you can imagine what would have accrued to Osun if we receive in excess of N4billion each time N1trillion is disbursed.
“You will also note that the dumping of 400,000 barrels at giveaway prices into the black market is partly responsible for the glut in the oil market that subsequently brought about the precipitous crash in price, further compounding our financial woes.
“The cumulative effect of this is the challenges the Federal Government and 27 states of the federation have in fulfilling their monthly obligations to workers, necessitating a bailout.
Governor Aregbesola who expressed profound gratitude to the state workforce on its consistent cooperation and support to development, said the state had enjoyed unflinching collaboration over the years from the state.
“We are particularly grateful for the fiercely loyal, dedicated, hard-working, industrious and God-fearing workers we have in Osun.
“We owe the success recorded by our administration to them. Last time we checked, 884 kilometres of road projects have been completed across the state by our administration, and we are still counting.
“We owe this to the workers. We are building new schools and rehabilitating existing ones. So far, 18 brand new state of the art schools have been completed and have been put to use; this is because the workers are committed to our vision.
“We feed 250,000 elementary pupils every school day; it is because workers want this programme to succeed. We have engaged more than 40,000 youths in public works and given them soft landing in various vocations, in an unprecedented move that wiped off unemployment and crashed crime rate in Osun. It is because workers believe in it and are committed to its success.
“We engage in ‘O’ this and ‘O’ that in the bid to empower our people and create wealth in our land. It is because workers are at the forefront. I can go on ad infinitum, but there is no doubt that without workers, no administration can succeed in doing anything.
“Our workers have also demonstrated unsurpassable understanding and forbearance in the face of the challenges we are going through. I will be eternally grateful to them.
“I want to also assure you, contrary to the insinuation being made by our traducers, who claimed we diverted the bailout funds, that nothing of such happened”, Aregbesola stressed.
Earlier, the State Chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Jacob Adekomi, who bemoaned over the economic hardship tormenting the nation and its adverse effects on Nigerian workers, called on government at all levels to always prioritize the welfare of workforce.
Comrade Adekomi who attributed the arrears of unpaid salaries, pensions, arrears of promotions, gratuities, death benefits, training allowance, and other issues of workers’ welfare to what he described as bad leadership and insensitivity on workers’ welfare, saying
the celebration of workers day at this hardship period implies celebration of survival.
Adekomi applauded the state workers for their resilience, patience, understanding, determination and support towards the success of the current administration even in the face the present economic realities.
He said, “We are only celebrating workers for surviving the hard economic situation because there are issues of arrears of unpaid salaries and pensions, particularly to states and local government workers.
“But in spite of this challenges, we will keep putting on smiling faces because we are patriots and we a passion for the development of this state and if we say we should sit at home murmuring over unpaid salaries and pensions we are not doing justice to ourselves.
“Our salaries moved from thirteenth month bonus to half salary in the face of mounting responsibilities.
“But in spite of this, I salute the entire workers, pensioners, market women and the general public at large in our state for weathering the storm through the demonstration of extreme patriotism despite serious economic challenges.
“You have shown serious understanding in the face of myriads economic crisis. I congratulate you for your resilience and hardwork both all workers in the formal and informal sectors of the state are great as we have cooperated with government not to allow our personal feelings to cause chaos in the state.
He therefore commended the state government for its untiring efforts in steering the ship of the state.
“We are quite aware of how Governor Aregbesola have been running helter skelter in order to pay our salaries and pensions and we want to assure the state that this branch of congress shall continue to pursue dialogue to solve all intractable problems because we believed that quenching fire with fire brings anarchy.
“To this end, we appreciate Governor Aregbesola for his continuous assurance of job security for our members just as we equally appreciate the perseverance, endurance and patience of our state workers and pensioners who have remained resolute and hopeful amidst the current economic crisis.
In his remarks, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige who was represented by the State Controller of Labour, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Mr. Bode James Abikoye called on the state workers to accept responsibilities along with government in its ongoing efforts to create a new State of Osun and Nigeria anchored on social justice, due process and the rule of law.
He called on workers to always partner with government by enduring the emergence of nation that cares for their people, adding that it is only in doing so that government efforts in ensuring promotion of democracy, good governance, sustainable growth and social justice can be driven to a logical conclusion.
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