…Adeleke, Oyetola face-off ended year with intrigues
By Ismail Azeez, Osogb
Following the transition of power from the All Progressives Congress, (APC) to the main opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party, (PDP) now the ruling party in Osun State, many drama have unfolded in about a month, since Senator Ademola Adeleke was sworn in as the sixth democratically elected Governor of Osun State.
The inaugural speech of the Governor Ademola Adeleke was loaded with the Executive Orders which reversed many appointments in the civil service, transitional councils, and reversal of the policies of the past administrations in the State.
The residents of Osun State will not easily forget 2022 with the Executive Orders that informed the dethronement of three monarchs including Akinrun of Ikinrun Oba Yinusa Akadiri; Aree of Ire Oba Ademola Oluponle and Owa of Igbajo, Oba Gboyega Famodun who was immediate past Chairman of the APC, Osun State chapter.
The Executive Orders covered chieftaincy matters, appointments issues, setting up of review panel, staff audit and employment matters. Also, was the suspension of the Chairman of the Osun State Independent Electoral Commission (OSIEC), Segun Oladitan, alongside six members of the Commission.
Aside dethronement of the Monarchs, the order led to sack of 12,000 workers, allegedly employed after the July 16, governorship elections.
Adeleke had said, “All employments in the service of Osun State Government made in any capacity into any capacity in all the Ministries, Departments, Agencies, Commissions, Boards and Parastatals after July 17th, 2022 be and are hereby nullified.
“Executive Order number five on Chieftaincy Affairs and appointment of traditional rulers. All appointments of traditional rulers made by Osun State Government after 17th July, 2022, are hereby ordered to be reviewed to ensure there is strict compliance with due process of chieftaincy declarations and native law, custom and tradition relating to such chieftaincies.
“In the case of Ikirun, Iree and Igbajo, to avoid further breakdown of law and order, the appointments of Akinrun of Ikinrun, Aree of Ire and Owa of Igbajo are hereby put on hold pending review. Subsequently, the palaces of Akinrun of Ikirun, Aree of Iree and Owa of Igbajo should remain unoccupied, while security agencies are hereby ordered to take charge.”
Suspension of licenses of mining firms operating in Osun
Also part of the overhauling orders was the decision by the Osun State Governor, Senator Ademola Adeleke, ordering the suspension of all licences of mining firms operating in the State.
According to Adeleke in a statement signed by his Spokesperson, Olawale Rasheed, the suspension of the operators is to remain in force until the conclusion of the ongoing review of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the State as the owner of the licences and the operators.
The operator were directed to report to the Committee on Assets Verification and Recovery chaired by Dr B.T Salami.
Adeleke had said, “All operators are to report to the Committee on Assets Verification and Recovery chaired by Dr B.T Salami with copies of their Memorandum of Understanding which governs their relationship with the State Government.”
In a public announcement from the Secretary to the State Government, Hon Teslim Igbalaye, Governor Adeleke reiterated his resolve to recover all fund owed Osun state and stop the reaping of state assets from mining to revenue collection.
Also, as part of the efforts to clean up the solid minerals sector in Osun State, Governor Ademola Adeleke, ordered the immediate disbandment of the state’s Mining Joint Taskforce (JTF).
The Governor in a statement signed by his Spokesperson, Mallam Olawale Rasheed directed the existing JTF to hand over all government vehicles and documents in their possession to the Solid Minerals Committee with immediate effect.
The Governor further issued instruction for the reconstitution of the JTF.
He said, “I consequently direct the Chairman of the Solid Mineral Committee to take necessary steps to ensure seamless transition from the old to the new JTF.
“The new team when constituted must operate with utmost professionalism with zero tolerance for misconduct,” Adeleke directed.
It would be recalled that the Governor had also set up a Solid Mineral Committee to look into activities of stakeholders within the sector with a view to putting an end to revenue leakages, unauthorised appropriation of solid minerals and tackling increasing criminal activities around the mining communities.
He had also announced far reaching reform of the solid mineral sector which include stopping unauthorised mining, addressing challenges of mining related environmental degradation and ensuring Osun State get her due return from the sector.
Oyetola, Adekeke quarrel over N407.32 bn Osun debt profile
One of the intriguing issue of interests had been allegation of Adeleke against his predecessor, Gboyega Oyetola accusing him of leaving behind a N407.32 billion debt which repayment period ranges from 16 months to about 28 years.
The Governor had made the allegation while meeting with Osun State Traditional Rulers in Osogbo, Osun State Capital.
Adeleke had said the purpose of the conference was to officially greet the Monarchs and also to present the official debt profile left by the immediate past government under the leadership of Oyetola.
Adeleke had said, “With high sense of responsibility, I am reporting to our people through our traditional rulers, the total debt profile inherited by my administration from Governor Oyetola’s administration.
“My administration inherited eight outstanding loan facilities, apart from salaries and pension debts, from Governor Oyetola’s administration. The repayment period ranges from 16 months to about 28 years.”
Adeleke listed the loans as Budget Support Facility with outstanding balance of N51.8 billion; Salary Bail Out Loan N38.8 billion; Restructured Commercial Bank Loans, N158.77 Billion; Excess Crude Account (ECA) Loan, N14.48 billion.
Others are: CBN Infrastructure Loan, N9.2 billion; FGN Intervention Loan, N1.7billion; and FGN Bridge Finance Facility: N18.04 billion
He also added that a large portion of this particular loan was taken after July 16th, 2022 election which Governor Oyetola lost, saying that there was no information on the Repayment terms.
“Not one kobo of this loan was left in Government Coffers, when the Deputy Governor and I resumed work on Monday 29th November 2022. And no explanation on how the loan was expended,” he emphasised.
“There were also Foreign loans of $86.2m, and there has not been any information on the Repayment Terms.
“My good people of Osun State, the total loan stock as at today is N331.32 billion.
“If the N76 billion debt on salaries and pension are added, the State is indebted to the tune of N407.32 billion. The amount owed contractors is yet to be determined.
“The only fund in government coffers, as at Monday 29th November, was for November 2022 Salary. Otherwise, the state treasury was empty. As the Governor, I will ask questions and demand for answers.
“Governor Oyetola must explain how the N331 billion borrowed in the name of Osun State was expended, with no obvious infrastructural development to justify this huge debt.
“Governor Oyetola must explain how the N18 billion Bridge Loan taken after he lost the election on July 16, 2022, was expended.
“Governor Oyetola must also explain why Osun State is owing salaries & pension to the tune of N76 billion after collecting a N50 billion Salary Bail Out Loan from the Federal Government.
“The Creditors, especially the Commercial Banks must explain why various loans were given to an administration beyond its four year tenure. 28 years is equivalent to the tenure of at least four Governors. A child that is born today would have earned a PhD at 28 years of age. This is nothing but mortgaging the future of Osun State with nothing to show for it. This is definitely not acceptable,” he added.
Reacting to the development, the media aide to Oyetola, Ismail Omipidan, had said Governor Adeleke has further exposed his lack of understanding of governance, stressing that Oyetola did not borrow a dime throughout his four years tenure.
Omipidan insisted that his principal never took any loan facility for the four years he (Oyetola) used in office.
He had said, “If you go to my principal farewell address, he stated it clearly, that like every other state, we benefitted N3billion on monthly basis for six months from the Federal Government as budget support. This money was given to all the 36 States of the Federation without requesting. You can not categorise that as loan.
“The new Governor does not understand the working of government and he should have allowed those that understand the rudiment to explain it to him, so that he won’t be coming to the public to embarrass himself.”
$106m loan: Adeleke suspends Ilesa Water Project Consultant, orders probe of loan disbursement
More recently have been issues around the Ilesa Water Project. Adeleke last Wednesday ordered the immediate suspension of the Ilesa Water Project in Osun East Senatorial District over questionable handling of a $106million loan secured for the project which was said to have been handled by a consultant, Mrs Tawa Williams.
The Governor further ordered full scale probe of the entire project and disbursed loans, directing the Consultant to return a N70million bullet proof Jeep to the government.
Adeleke had said there is no progress on the project despite reported disbursement of N10 billion and another $28million on the project.
The Governor had said that the suspension of the project co-ordinator was to allow for unhindered review of the loan administration.
Adeleke frowned at large scale corruption reflected in the handling of the loans and the project, an action he regretted has denied people of Ilesa and environs of drinkable water.
“My administration will dig into this matter with all seriousness. The huge fund in question are loans to be repaid. We have a sacred duty to ensure accountability and transparency in the handling of the fund and the project,”Senator Adeleke said.
The Assets Recovery Committee had submitted an interim report which revealed an ongoing large scale pilfering of the procured loans while the project recorded no progress commesurating with reported expenditure.
According to the interim report of Salami led committee, the Islamic Development Bank agreed to fund the project to the tune of $65 million while the Federal Government provided $41.94 million.
“So far, a total of $27.073 million has been expended from the IDB loan of $65 million, leaving a balance of the sum of $37.926million. However, from the Federal Government loan of $41.94 million which the Consultant had converted to N12billion, the sum of N10 billion had been purportedly spent on the project, leaving a balance of N2 billion,” the report stated.
The Committee noted that despite the huge sums of $27.073 million and N10 billion of the state resources (repayable loans) already spent so far, the Ilesa Water Project is not yet functional and the good people of Ilesa are yet to access any water.
Bribery allegation against House of Assembly
A further drama played out from the suspension of the coordinator and consultant of the $106m Ilesa Water Project, Mrs Tawa Williams over allegations of poor work and questionable handling of $106million loan secured for the project, when she accused the Osun State House of Assembly of demanding a $5 million bribe on the Ilesa Water Project.
She alleged that the Chairman, House Committee on Water Resources, Hon. Nasiru Olateju, demanded the $5m bribe on behalf of the assembly.
Williams made the allegation on Thursday, while featuring on a current affairs radio programme in Osogbo, Osun State capital, monitored by our Correspondent.
It would be recalled that Osun State Governor, Ademola Adeleke on Wednesday suspended Mrs Tawa Williams as a consultant who is handling the Ilesa Water Project Management over poor work and questionable handling of a $106million loan secured for the project.
According to Williams, the “House of Assembly asked me for $5million and I said I don’t have $5 million to give anyboby. They asked for the money as the take away grant and they are saying they will go to press to declare that the quality of work we have done is not good.
“I told them that one year ago, you were on the site. You were commending us. Now, you will go back to the press and say we have not done well, what would be your reason?
“I kept asking them, What as change between that time House of Assembly visited the site and they credited us. The bank has come and they were amazed about the standard of the quality and quantity of the work we have done.
“I’m saying this from all sense of responsibility. The Chairman of the House committee on water supply and some of the committees; they called me and my team to the meeting and they were saying that we didn’t give them money and I said i don’t have money to give to them. The money I have is to do the work,” Williams said.
Reacting, the House of Assembly described the allegation against the lawmakers as unfortunate and cheap blackmail from the consultant of the Ilesa Water Project to cover up for her incompetence.
The lawmakers, in a statement signed by Kunle Alabi the Media Aide to the Speaker, Timothy Owoeye, said that sometimes in November during plenary, the Assembly had raised concerns over the poor implementation of the project and the non-execution of a $2m treatment plant.
“Doesn’t it defy logic and common sense that one will request for a $5m bribe on a $2m project?
“The House of Assembly under the leadership of Rt. Hon Timothy Owoeye has given Engineer Tawa Williams 24hours to retract her bribery allegation against the committee of the Assembly, her failure to do that within the said hours, the Assembly shall be forced to seek redress in court as no amount of blackmail will stop the Assembly from playing its constitutional role.
“Osun House of Assembly will never ask any agency of government or individual for any gratification before it could adequately discharge it’s constitutional duties.
“The said Engineer Tawa Williams had shown that she’s not worthy to have been handed such huge responsibility with her recent outburst of resorting to blackmail to keep afloat with her designation as the consultant of the water project.”
The Speaker charged members of the Committee on Water Resources not to be discouraged in the discharge of their duties, saying “her latest outburst reinforces the need for you to wrap up your work and make your report official.”
Allegation of looting of government properties
Also in the series of intrigues have been allegations of looting of government properties by appointees of the immediate past Governor.
While Oyetola’s side has denied the allegation, Adeleke has stood the ground that all looted properties must be returned to the government.
On this, he gave former officials of the State a two-day ultimatum to return government property in their custody.
Adeleke, in a statement by his Spokesperson, Olawale Rasheed, warned of severe consequences for non-compliance.
“The full weight of the law shall be visited on any former official that refuses to comply with the directive,” the statement quoted Adeleke as saying.
The statement decried the large scale of diversion of government assets by top officials of the immediate past administration.
It said,“Several official vehicles are missing; official records indicate that two-third of former state officials left with lots of official cars.
“Most Ministries, Departments and Agencies have been stripped of operational assets like vehicles, computers and even residential fittings.
“Residences of some top officials were equally pillaged even to lamp fittings.
“We have an embarrassing situation here; any former official, who refuses to comply with the directive, will face the full weight of the law.”
In one of its responses, Oyetola’s side had described the allegation of loots by the Adeleke led government as a mere diversionary tactic by the governor to cover up his unpreparedness to govern Osun.