The comments credited to Architect Segun Abiodun, the immediate past Commissioner for Housing in Ogun State, made my gorge rise. Abiodun, in a press statement on the controversial Ogun Judicial Complex, accused the current governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, of “chasing shadows.”
The Amosun government misled the public one too many times. For instance, in early April this year, the media was awash with the news of Amosun saying that 3,000 students had completed admission processes at Ogun State Polytechnic, Ipokia and would matriculate in May. But subsequent findings showed that the former governor deliberately deceived the public as no such admission procedure took place not to talk of matriculation. Thank God Amosun himself said to newsmen that the new polytechnic would take off in May as everything, according to him, was ready. Otherwise he would have blamed Governor Dapo Abiodun for his “abandoned project” at Ipokia.
Again, a few days to his exit from power, we read in the press that Amosun had paid the severance gratuity of all his political office holders and did not owe the civil servants. But the state chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress debunked the news report at a press conference, listing all the entitlements being owed by Amosun.
The NLC chair spoke of the “discomfort, pain and irreparable damages the outgoing administration has inflicted on the public servants and their families in the state are unbearable.
“Some homes have been broken, lives have been lost to common ailments due to lack of money for medications and treatment; wards and children admission to higher institution lost, personal project abandoned, professional training and development programme abandoned and predisposition of workers to many embarrassing situations making many chronic debtors as a result of non-payment of salaries and other entitlements due to them.”
One was shocked to the marrow to discover that apart from Segun Abiodun and a few others, the majority of Amosun political office holders suffered untold financial hardship. Some of them, who are friends and relatives, confirmed that Amosun paid them half salaries throughout their tenure and denied them the most basic of their entitlements. Undenied reports in the social media have it that contrary to the widely circulated rumours that the Amosun government paid the severance of all the political office holders that served between 2015 and 2019, his own special assistants and senior special advisers were not paid and have appealed to the Abiodun government to offset the severance in order to encourage sacrificial service by public office holders.
Last but not the least, whereas ex-governor Amosun consistently claimed in the newspapers that workers’ wage bill was N9.2 billion per month, the government of Dapo Abiodun discovered the wage bill was actually N7 billion per month, prompting stakeholders in Ogun to demand from Amosun to explain the whereabouts of the monthly balance of N2.2 billion for eight solid years.
Given this background, the comments by Segun Abiodun, the Commissioner for Housing, came to one as most insensitive, as it rubs pepper on the wounds of majority of past political office holders that served with him in the Amosun government and the civil servants. Hear Segun Abiodun, in the widely circulated press release:
“The comments of Prince Dapo Abiodun so far on projects inherited from the Amosun Administration have indeed confirmed fears that many of them would be denied of funding to frustrate their completion so as to label them as abandoned projects of the Amosun Administration. Thankfully the Amosun-led administration foresaw this and ensured that on-going projects were either fully paid for or advance payments of between 80 – 90% were made. But for this pro-activeness, all the projects would have been truncated.”
The pertinent questions are: Where did Amosun get the fund to pay contractors 100 per cent or 90 per cent in advance, for projects not yet executed at the time when Ogun public and civil workers were being owed billions of naira entitlements and consequently being turned into beggars by the Amosun administration?
And where has it ever happened in Nigeria that a governor would pay 100 per cent or 90 per cent upfront for multi-billion naira projects in our well-known system notorious for corruption and where contractors often play pranks with public funds in collusion with some unpatriotic government functionaries? Is it not surprising that despite the untold financial suffering imposed on its workers, the Amosun government surreptitiously went ahead to pay 100 per cent for a judicial complex that was launched when it was just about 35 per cent completed? Now, the contractors want to renegotiate with the Abiodun government just six weeks after Amosun left government with a view to increasing the contract value! What audacity? What an attempted rip-off? This, certainly, demands a judicial probe.
One must commend Governor Dapo Abiodun for resisting the pressure to part with the scarce resources of the state on some of the self-serving projects of the Amosun administration.
However, the coup de grace in Segun Abiodun’s vacuous press statement was his unsolicited advice to the new governor: “We implore Prince Dapo Abiodun to roll up his sleeves and begin to work for the people of Ogun State rather than chasing shadows, trying to find fault in every project of the Amosun Administration.”
Well, one wonders why this advice was not made available to Amosun when he was in power. Out of the 20 or 25 model schools built by Amosun, only one was said to be partly functioning before he left office on May 29. Yet he spent about N1 billion on each school before abandoning them to rodents, reptiles and area boys. Virtually all the uncompleted model schools were overgrown with bush years before Amosun left office. Did Amosun also pay 100 per cent ahead for the model schools and then abandoned them by himself three clear years before he left government? Are the multi-billion naira model schools not abandoned projects of the Amosun administration? And why would the former governor abandon the model school project that was said to be dear to his heart mid-way into completion only to go ahead to pay 100 per cent upfront for new projects, shockingly, on the eve of his departure from power? If this action of Amosun is not treated as manifestly suspicious, as to warrant a judicial probe, then I wonder if we will ever get it right in this country.
At least I know the model schools in Owode Ofada, Kemta in Abeokuta, Ilaro and one in Ijebu. They were abandoned by Amosun since 2014, five clear years before he left government after spending billions of naira on them. We await Segun Abiodun’s response to this and the fantasy 250-bedroom specialist hospital that Amosun began on the eve of his exit while the state hospital Ijaye in Abeokuta and OOUTH, the only teaching hospital in the state, were completely in ruins.
Barr Oladele, public policy commentator, writes from Akute, Ogun State.
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