Against the background of the stretching arrears of salaries owed public workers in Osun State, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the spokesman of the All Progressives Congress, APC , during an interactive session with the Editorial Board of Vanguard gave reasons why the state has found itself in dire straits asserting that the party cannot in any way be ashamed of the governor , Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, or his record of performance. Excerpts:
By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
Osun State is probably the most cosmopolitan state in the whole of Nigeria. We are very proud of our governor, Rauf Aregbesola and we stand by him because he is one of the most proactive governors, he is one governor that has taken the reason for governance very seriously.
What happened in Osun State is as follows: Up to 2013 December, the average that was distributed between the three tiers of the federation was about N800 billion a month but as of May last year, N338 billion was what was distributed, so what you have is that most states have suffered more than 50 per cent decline in revenue accruing to them from the federation account.
Osun State is not just the most cosmopolitan, it has the highest number of cities in the whole of country, Ilesha, Oshogbo, Ikirun, Ife and many more. So, by the time this decline came, Aregbesola had embarked on a lot of pro people programmes that had to be sustained and maintained such as the one meal a day programme for school children, the O-YES programme that employed so many people and kept crime at the lowest level in the whole of the country.
He had embarked on social welfare for the very elderly, school expansion and because of the introduction of the one meal a day programme, school enrolment had exploded.
So, the fact that a state cannot pay salaries does not mean the governor has been guilty of embelzement or misappropriation of funds, after all, there are some states that take derivation from oil that are still owing.
I will be ashamed of the governor if for instance I know for a fact that he took the money belonging to the state, misappropriated it or spent it unwisely or embezzeled. So far, nobody has come out to accuse Aregbesola of misappropriation of funds or if even being insensitive to the plight of the people.
But if a man was taking about N3.6 billion a month but the last time he took I think he got about N400 million.
Abandoning of projects
When he came in, he also inherited a lot of debts for which banks were also deducting, so, there is no way that we in APC can be ashamed of him because we know what is happening.
What of Oyo State?
It is what is happening in Osun State that is happening in Oyo State also. It is either you say I am going to retrench and send people packing or I am going to abandon my projects.
If you had like Oyo been taking more than N4.2 billion and now they are taking less than N2 billion, how are you going to make up for the shortfall and these are states where internally generated revenue are almost non existence.
Well, I am happy that the Federal Government has come out now with a bailout package for all the states.