As govt accuses Assembly of blackmail
By Kolade Larewaju
ABEOKUTA â€“ THE Ogun State Government yesterday accused the House of Assembly of blackmailing it in its decision to suspend further sitting indefinitely over the non-release of its running cost by Governor Olugbenga Daniel.
The House had at its last sitting on Tuesday suspended sitting sine die, saying that it has no funds to run the affairs of the House, including buying diesel for its generator.
But the State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Sina Kawonise at a briefing yesterday said members of the House were out to blackmail the State Government, saying that the issue of non-release of running cost was not peculiar to the House.
He said their outcry was in fact a confirmation of the believe that members of the House were sharing the running cost. Kawonise who was accompanied by the Director of Budget, Mr. Kayode Sunmola, said all ministries and parastatals, including the judiciary were still being owedÂ subvention, adding that the last time any of the tertiary institutions in the state got any subvention was in January.
He said, â€œI think there is need for all of you to know that the House is better off. The Governor had to meet with the judiciary because judges are also being owed bulk release. It is just blackmail. The last time the tertiary institutions in the state got subvention was in January, they have not even been paid their salaries because subvention forms about 90 percent of their salaries.
â€œThe Government is servicing its debt with about N400 million every month and if they had allowed us to access the Bond, it would not have been necessary to use such huge amount to service the debts. Because rather that the 22 to 23 percent in servicing the loans, only about 9 percent would be used to service the bond. By not approving the bond, the House is shooting itself in the foot.â€
Â Taking further swipes at members of the House, Kawonise wondered what they had been doing with the running cost over time without buying things like photocopiers making them to now complain that they could not buy such consumables which he said the running cost was meant to take care off.
â€œIt is actually two months running cost that they have not been paid, but they have been paid their salaries. Their bulk release is N15 million which was from the N22.5 million they were getting before the meltdown. While all other ministriesâ€™ bulk was reduced by 50 percent, the house only had its own reduced by 33 percent. The last time ministries got any running cost was November.
â€œWhat have they been using the money for since all these months they have collected? It seems to confirm that the House shared the money. The House should provide leadership through sacrifice.â€
The Commissioner said the action of the House amounted to going on strike and wondered if it would have been proper for the governor to also go on strike because the contingency fund in the budget was removed.