By Jacob Akintunde, Akure
The Ondo state government has dismissed insinuation in some quarters that the just approved N50billion bond by the state House of Assembly was being taken from the capital market to fund the 2020 second term election of Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu.
Ondo state government however said that the N50billion bond that will be in two tranches, is targeting at funding ongoing and new capital projects initiated by the administration of Governor Akeredolu.
It would be recalled that the N50billion bond approved by the state House of Assembly last Thursday.
The State Commissioner for Information and Orientations, Mr Donald Ojogo said this at the weekend at the NUJ Press Centre in Akure while interacting with journalists in the state.
The interactive session with journalists is to further carry the public along on policies and programmes of the government through the media.
Answering questions from newsmen during the interactive session, the Information Commissioner noted that the #50billion bond had become imperative to enable government to pay contractors handling its various capital projects especially roads contractors.
He pointed out that the money from the capital market would not come to the purse of the state government but it would be spent directly on government’s projects.
His words, “We all know that the finances and economic pursuit of states have dwindled, yet they are contending issues. We have come to take over the mantle of leadership not to come and complain. We have decided to take over leadership in the state to ensure that what is what doing is what doing well. Akeredolu has been elected as governor not complain that there is no money to pay salaries. He has been elected not to come and complain that there is no money to provide good infrastructure in the state. Yet, where is the money?
“So, the man (Akeredolu) decided to think outside the box. One of the noble things he did was to pay simultaneously. As he was paying the salary from the Mont he took over every month, he was also paying the backlog of salaries and emoluments that the government met, because government is a continuum. Now we have only a month left out of the seven months that the governor inherited. And I can tell you categorically that civil servants in the state have received their August salary. I don’t think this government has received up to six billion in a single month from FAAC since it came on board. It is as low as four billion in some cases. And what is the wage bill of the state?
Do we now complain that because we are paying salaries we will not construct roads, upgrade our hospitals and desirable structures will not be put in place?
“So, what the government decided to do is that rather than going to the bank to obtain a loan was to go through the bond process. The bond as we all know is a N50 billion bond that was approved by the House of Assembly on Thursday. That bond is meant to enhance not just to sustain the development that has been achieved but to further engender and sustain development in the state. From that bond N50 billion, 50 kobo or 50 cents of that money is not coming into government purse. It is between the capital market and the banks where the fund will be domicile.
“In any case, the best way to fund a project is only through the bonds because the maximum interest rate is between 14 and 16 percent. But if you go to the bank, it will attract 19 and in some cases 20, 21 percent. So, it is of no burden to the state. This bond is targeted at specific projects”.
Ojogo explained that Akeredolu would rather spend such huge bond on legacy projects that would impact positively on the lives of the citizenry instead of using same for any re-election bid.
“The governor didn’t take loan or bond to win his election in 2016, the people freely gave him their mandate, so he can’t take loan to do any reelection. Disregard opposition, opposition will always talk, is part of their job to talk. We all know that the money would not be paid into government’s purse but it will be used to fund all these ongoing and new capital projects directly.”
He assured the people of the state that contractors would soon return to sites of road projects that were currently experiencing delay, adding that with the approval of the bond, ongoing projects would be completed in record time.
While speaking on the delay in conducting local government election since assumption in office of Governor Akeredolu, Ojogo said that within the shorted period, the process in conducting local government election will be put in place, reactivated.
“I want to assure that within the shorted period, the process of conducting local government elections will be put in place, the process will be reactivated, it is even to the government advantages.
“Its for the advantage of local people, it’s for the advantages of the political parties even to our own party, APC. It is in the interest of people in the state to conduct this election and in view of this, we are not going to delay. But due process must be put in place before conducting it”, he said.
In a remark, the Ondo state Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Comrade Adetona Aderoboye commended the information Commissioner for reviving the media interaction after about three years, urging him to sustain it on monthly and quarterly basis to help the state government in its information management.
Aderoboye who commended Governor Akeredolu for recently appointing two members of the Union as his key aides, said journalists in the state were happy with the redeployment of Ojogo to the information ministry as a core professional.
He however assured Ojogo to always count on the support of his colleagues in the media industry.