By Kolade LAREWAJU, Abeokuta
THE Ogun State Government yesterday reacted to the call for the impeachment of Governor Olugbenga Daniel by a group, the Common Man Movement of Nigeria saying that the allegations were only recycled information from frustrated politicians in the State.
Chief Press Secretary to the Governor; Mr. Adegbenro Adebanjo in a statement in Abeokuta said the allegations were not only false but were also aimed at deceiving the public.
Reacting to the issues raised point by point, Adegbenro said “counterpart funding for National Urban Water Sector Reform is a World Bank initiative and the state’s share of N33, 750,000 per Quarter is being deducted at source from our revenue from the Federation Account by the Accountant-General of the Federation in Abuja.
“These funds have been set aside specifically for water projects that are approved by the World Bank, for which the state cannot interfere.
It is important to note that the Counterpart Funds deducted by the Accountant-General of the Federation do not come into the coffers of the State Government and the procurement procedure of the World Bank is applied for the use of the funds.
Every single process of procurement has to be approved by the World Bank, in addition to physical check every two weeks on the projects by officials of World Bank, Federal Ministry of Water Resources and Federal Ministry of Finance.
“Alleged N5.2billion illegally expended on debt servicing: Before the advent of the administration of His Excellency, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, the practice in the State was to put an un-estimated amount represented by 10e in the budget for interest charges, since the amount that the banks would eventually charge could not be pre-determined.
When His Excellency, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, got on the scene, with his resolve to be accountable to the people of Ogun State, he gave instruction that a quantifiable amount (not an un-estimated amount represented by 10e) be included in the budget for interest charges.
“In the process of preparing the 2009 budget, the Executive arm of Government projected N350m for interest charges on our existing short-term accommodation/bridging facilities, with the hope that we would access the Capital Market for Bond Issuance which is cheaper, to refinance these short-term accommodation, unfortunately the House of Assembly thwarted our efforts in this regard.
“The rates of interest charged by banks are functions of demand for money in the economy and inflationary trends, among other factors. These factors are beyond the control of any State in the federation.
“During the first quarter of 2010, after carrying out reconciliation of our bank position pending the time a forensic audit is carried out on the interest charges, the sum of N5.2billion had accumulated as interest in 2009. A Supplementary bill on the 2009 appropriation (as provided for by law in such circumstance) was immediately forwarded to the House of Assembly to cover the unanticipated increase in interest charges, however, the said bill is still being considered by the House of Assembly.
“Alleged N300million fraudulently paid electricity charges: It is unfortunate that a Government that dutifully pays its PHCN bills for the following public establishments and agencies on a monthly basis can be alleged to have double-paid and done so fraudulently, considering the fact that PHCN officers directly pick up their cheques from the Office of Ogun State Accountant-General and issue receipts for same
“Alleged N1billion unremitted pension deducted from workers’ salaries: In line with the Federal Government New Pension Reform Act 2004, Ogun State Government took to commence the process of the new Contributory Pension Scheme for employees in the State Public Service by sending an Executive Bill to the House of Assembly, which was passed into Law in 2006 tagged Pension Reform Law, 2006.
“Implementation of the Ogun State Pension Reform Law, 2006 commenced on January 1, 2008, having gone through the rigorous process of enlightening employees in the Public Service of Ogun State of the desirability and advantages of this new scheme over the old Pay-As-You-Go Pension Scheme, setting up of Bureaus for State and Local Government Pensions respectively, appointment of Pension Fund Administrators and obtaining available Personal Identification Numbers (PIN) from the National Pension Commission (PENCOM).
Like any start-up that is grappling to have a foothold on its operations, the National Pension Commission (PENCOM) that is authorized to issue PIN numbers to all employees nationally was unable to provide us with PIN numbers for all our employees at once. Perhaps it is important to state here that remittance of Pension Contribution is impossible without a PIN number.
“The State Government has remitted to date the sum of N1,467,916,305.16 (One Billion, Four Hundred and Sixty Seven Million, Nine Hundred and Sixteen Thousand,
Three Hundred and Five Naira, Sixteen Kobo only) representing both employers and employees contribution to the Pension Fund Administrators. However, as a result of the global financial meltdown which led to a huge reduction in our revenue, the amount of cash available to the State Government on a monthly basis is barely enough to cover the Net Salary payable into the Bank Account of employees, talk less of the Contributory Pension that has been deducted on the payroll (paper deduction).
“It is on account of this dwindling revenue that the State Government made efforts to access funds in the Capital Market through Bond Issuance (that was thwarted by the House of Assembly), which would have substantially taken care of interest payable on our bridging facilities/short-term accommodation that were used to finance Capital Projects, thereby leaving some funds for us to adequately take care of additional expenditure like the Contributory Pension.
“From the explanation given above, it is clear that the blame for the ‘delayed payment’ of the Contributory Pension should be placed at the doorstep of the House of Assembly. There is therefore no case of ‘unremitted Pension Fund Contribution’ as alleged, there is simply no cash-backing to pay the ‘paper deduction’ we have made on our records.
“Alleged N500million Agric loan diversion: Five Hundred Million Naira (N500million) Agric loan only exists in the imagination of the group. Such does not exist in reality and the issue of diversion does not arise.