Abuja – Mr Rauf Aregbesola, the ministerial nominee from Osun, has clarified issue around the alleged non-payment of salaries to workers when he served as a governor.
The former governor gave the clarification when he appeared before the Senate on Monday.
He was particularly responding to a question from Sen. Bashir Gasau (PDP-Zamfara), who asked him about what led to the reported inability of his government to pay workers for four years.
Aregbesola described those carrying such information as “ignorant and mischievous”.
He said the state under his stewardship just like others fell victim of economic recession in 2014, but was able to manage the situation with initial payment of half and full salaries depending on grade levels.
“On the issue of non-payment of salary, it is untrue that we didn’t pay salaries and this can be out of ignorance and mischief.
“Just like other states in the country in 2014, Osun State felt impacts of the economic recession. But we were able to manage the situation.
“From July 2015 to July 2018, we paid full salary to all civil servants from levels 1 to 7, who constituted 72% of the workforce.
“Within the same period of time, all levels 10 to 12 workers got 75% of their salaries, while from level 13 and above including all political office holders were paid 50%.
“This was because we invested heavily in infrastructure. But today, we have cleared all that and my successor is doing his best in prompt payment of salary,” he said.
The nominee added that the measure was a temporary solution at the time as proffered by his economic team.
On multiple taxation, he said if given the opportunity, he would prepare a special tax regime for the rich and wealthy in the country.
“There’s a limitation to what we can do about multiple taxation at the federal level. But we can make the rich and the wealthy do the proper thing.
“I will create privileges tax for those who are wealthy and rich in Nigeria. I will advocate a just taxation system that will bridge the gap between the rich and the poor in the society,” he said.
Meanwhile, some senators used the opportunity to urge their colleagues to grant express approval to the nominee.
Among them is his former colleague governor, Sen. Rochas Okorocha (APC-Imo), who described him as a decent, honest and de-tribalised Nigerian.
Also, Sen. Ishiaku Abbo (PDP-Adamawa) narrated how he was assisted by Aregbesola in 2012 when he contested for governorship election.
Two senators from Osun -Sen. Bashiru Ajibola and Hassan Sunmonu also urged the Senate to permit the nominee take a bow and leave the hallow chambers.
The request was subsequently granted by a motion moved by Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP-Abia) and seconded by Sen. Francis Fadahunsi (APC-Osun).(NAN)