Yinka Odumakin is a paid liar, says Semiu Okanlawon, Aregbesola’s Director of Communication and Strategy

Is it true that Governor Aregbesola told the state House of Assembly when he was addressing lawmakers in June that he had lost control of the state’s finances and the situation had gone beyond his control?
Let me correct you on where the Governor first made the statement that has been quoted out of context, which his traducers have hung onto. It was not at the House of Assembly in Osun but at the State House in Abuja. When he spoke at the State House of Assembly, it was to correct the erroneous interpretations given to what he said in Abuja. The governor said the situations leading to the decline in national revenue distribution were beyond his control. And what were these circumstances? The Peoples Democratic Party-led Federal Government kept telling Nigerians that 400,000 barrels of oil were being stolen every day. Was that within the control of the Governor of Osun?semiu okanlawon
The international price of crude was falling and was affecting the revenue available to the Federation Account for sharing. Was that within the control of the Governor of Osun? High level corruption was being elevated to state policy and badly eating into revenues available to states; was that within the control of the Osun governor?
The only thing that you could say, that is within the control of the Governor of Osun, is how he grows the economy of his state to a level that the state would not need to rely on allocations from the Federal Government. And in that, you cannot say that within a spate of four years, Aregbesola has not moved mountains in terms of the phenomenal increase in the generation of internal revenue.

Is it true that all parties, including the APC, were invited to a stakeholders’ meeting where the decision to ask EFCC to probe the Osun State Government was reached?
They sent an invitation to the APC, but that is not as important as the nature and character of the event to which you were inviting people. Of what use is an invitation sent for a programme whose mission is dubious in the first place?

How true is the allegation that Governor Aregbesola ordered the Police to seal up the venue of the meeting in July, accusing the participants of playing to create public disturbance?
The Police in Osun is not an appendage of the state government. It does its work independent of government. Why are the Police there if not to gather intelligence reports, monitor activities of groups and individuals? So, if in the course of their job the Police discover some sinister moves under the guise of some summit or conference, and they can also make useful references to the antecedents of the sponsors, do you suggest that the Police fold their arms and wait till violence is unleashed on the state? Ask those behind the summit why they first booked for the venue, pretending to be organising a wedding. A few days later, they went to change the reason for their booking to a conference and that made the owners of the venue to also feel something was amiss.

The Odumakin group said it is not sponsored but only concerned about the poor state of the state economy and welfare of the people?
So, how come all of them behind it (petition to the EFCC) were the humiliated candidates of one political party or the other in the August 9, 2014, governorship election? Senator Iyiola Omisore was candidate of the PDP and he pursued his case till the Supreme Court said it lacked merit. Or is it Niyi Owolade of the Accord Party or Mr. Segun Akinwusi of the Social Democratic Party, who, despite retiring as Head of Service before his political misadventure, failed to garner in all polling units in (the entire) Osun what Aregbesola gathered in just one unit? And how come Dr. Muyiwa Oladimeji, who was one of those who addressed a press conference to announce their so-called summit, pulled out two days to the programme?
Odumakin said while the governor claims that Osun got only N180bn from the Federation Account in five years, information from the Office of the Accountant General of the state say it is N317bn.
Again, that is another in the series of their jumbled figures and manipulations. The question is: has Aregbesola spent five years on that seat? He spent his first four years and he is into his first one year of another four years (of another term). So, how can you then calculate that Aregbesola has collected such amount in five years? But to a more important aspect of your question, which is the claim by Odumakin and his sponsors that this government received N317bn; let us assume – without conceding – that Osun has been collecting N5bn monthly as revenue from the Federation Account, the total of that in one year would be N60bn. If you multiply that by 4 years, you will get N240bn. That is not even close to the N317bn he and Akinwusi and other cohorts have turned to a sing-song.

How come Osun has lost N200bn to the administration’s alleged mismanagement of funds?

Let them justify that fictitious loss of N200bn with evidence. Tell them to produce evidence other than merely mouthing it. They cannot continue to shamelessly castigate the governor in the face of the figures on revenue sharing and allocations that are available on the Internet. How can you justify a loss of N200bn in a state that gets far less than N5bn in a month? Did that government not embark on any project?
Odumakin also alleged that after the governor said Osun got only N180bn, you later at a different occasion said the state got N204bn, which showed a contradiction.
There has never been a time we gave conflicting figures in our explanation of the figures on Osun finances because these are facts that are out in the public. If anything, those causing confusion are those who lie brazenly in order to confuse members of the public. For instance, you should demand from Akinwusi, who first challenged Aregbesola to account for N862bn he collected in four years in June this year; but in July, again at the press conference they called a summit, the same Akinwusi, who had about a month before accused Aregbesola of mismanaging N862bn now accused Aregbesola of getting N317bn. As a journalist, the relevant and very simple question I would have posed to Akinwusi is: Mr. Akinwusi, please what happened to your June figure of N862bn, which is now N317 billion in July?

What has become of high capital projects in the state, including Osun airport, for which loans have been taken?
The capital projects are there and going at a pace realistic with the state’s financial status that also affects the agreements with contractors. And don’t forget, Osun developed a very flexible and comfortable financing of its projects in a way that would make the people have those projects but pay over a long period. But for the creative financing strategies such as these, nothing would have been achieved if you consider the revenue that is accruable to the state in terms of allocations from Abuja and the state’s Internally Generated Revenue.

Is it true that an N11.5bn loan from the Islamic Bank, said to be interest free, will actually attract N25bn interest by 2020?
Sukuk has no interest and don’t forget that Osun has earned commendations for being the pioneer state for that alternative development financing option. It is an idea that is being recommended for other states to confront their various development challenges.

The N11.5bn was said to have been obtained to construct 27 schools but only two have been built. Is this true?
Please, visit Osun and count the number of schools that are already completed. You won’t count less than 52, including elementary, middle and high schools. Even in the home towns of those sponsoring Odumakin for these hatchet jobs – that is Ife and Modakeke – no fewer than three of such mega schools have been completed. The first elementary school actually commissioned by this government is located in Anglican Central School, Ilare, Ife, close to Senator Omisore’s family compound. So is another one at St. Stephen Middle School, Modakeke, where Akinwusi comes from. So, this tells you they are liars.

Why does Osun have two helicopters it maintains even when there is economic downturn and workers are owed salaries?
Tell them to stop sounding ridiculous because the cost of a helicopter is not why Osun does owe salaries. One of them ignorantly said a helicopter costs N8bn before and was embarrassed when we told him to check for the cost of a brand new Boeing. That is the way to deal with desperate people who are blinded by mere ambitions. By their logic, the government can as well sell all police patrol vehicles and Armoured Personnel Carriers procured about the same time Osun leased the helicopter; an investment that has made Osun impregnable for criminals.
Why did Governor Aregbesola have to charter flights, most especially from Ibadan to Lago,s until he acquired the helicopters and now fly in them?
Let those who make such allegations provide evidence. Please note that there are agencies of the government that possess data on things like this. Why not just ask them to give you information on how many chartered flights had been operated from Ibadan airports within a particular period and who chartered what flights? You can also make inquiries from airlines how many times they had Aregbesola on their commercial flights from Ibadan to Abuja or even Lagos.

What is the true state of the Opon Imo project said to have been funded with N8.3bn?
It is an ongoing project, but with no cost close to that being bandied around by the opposition. N8bn for what? The state has not spent more than N2bn on that project, even with the impact it has made in making learning much easier and introducing our students to the world of tech learning. Last year, Omisore said the government had given out only 900 units and we told him that even in Ile Ife alone, where he comes from, we had distributed 1,473 units. What does that tell you about these characters?

The debt profile of Osun is now N400bn or what is it?

The Central Bank of Nigeria and the Debt Management Office of the presidency have given the total debt of all 36 states put together as being just above N600bn. If you look at the size of Osun, the revenue available to it, can all the banks in Nigeria, put together, give an entity that amount? How can you say Osun owes more than 60 per cent of Nigerian states total debt? It simply does not make sense.

Do you think the Aregbesola-led administration will come clean should EFCC go through its books?
I even doubt if the EFCC will take the likes of Odumakin and his sponsors seriously. They procured the services of a judge to use her status and privilege to write a petition but when the time came for the EFCC to invite her to substantiate, she developed cold feet. The House of Assembly set up an ad hoc committee to investigate the same petition, she declined to defend it. It is the same petition Odumakin took to the EFCC office. Don’t be surprised if the serious-minded professional operatives at the EFCC begin to investigate those behind frivolous petitions.
-The Punch

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