Osun Assembly exonerates Aregbesola over N34bn bail-out fund fraud

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The Osun State House of Assembly on Tuesday released the reports of its investigation into how the sum of N34,988,990,000 received by the administration of Governor Rauf Aregbesola in the state in August 2015 from the Federal Government was expended.

The 6-page report, jointly signed by the Chairman, Finance and Appropriation Committee, Hon. Kamil Oyedele and Chairman, Public Accounts Committee, Hon. Olalekan Afolabi, was presented and read at the House of Assembly’s sitting in Osogbo.

According to the report, “The request for the sum of N88,215,468,757.27, which comprised N64,327,492,947.01 and N23,887,975,810.26 for state and local governments, respectively, was forwarded to the Central Bank of Nigeria in July, 2015.

“However, the sum of N34,988,990,000, covering N25,871,920,000 and N9,117,070,000 for state and local governments, respectively, was actually approved and released by the Central Bank of Nigeria to the state government of Osun in August, 2015.”

On how the state government utilised the controversial bailout fund, the lawmakers said, “The utilisation of the approved fund in respect of the state government are as stated below: Actual amount received=N25,871,920,000.00; payment made in respect of salaries and allowances of state government workers (civil servants and teachers)=N20,651,082,846.25.

“Payment made in respect of pensions for the retired civil servants and teachers=N5,212,057,964.89; Accrued Bank Charges=N5,426,154.60; Total amount spent=N25,868,566,925.74; Balance=3,353,034.26.”

For the local governments, the report noted that, “The Actual amount received=N9,117,070,000.00; payment made in respect of salaries and allowances of staff of Local Governments and Primary school teachers=N7,789,943,410.92; payment made in respect of pensions for the retired workers of local governments and primary school teachers=N1,147,237,237,318.66; Accrued Bank Charges=N6,662,480.97; Total amount spent=N8,943,843,210.55; Balance=N173,226,789.45.”

This breakdown was in contrast with the claims by the Peoples Democratic Party in the state, accusing Governor Aregbesola of squandering the funds on phony contracts.

According to the PDP’s spokesperson, Prince Diran Odeyemi, in a recent statement, Aregbesola actually diverted the bail-out funds meant to pay workers’ salaries to pay some Lagos-based contractors, which also included a highly placed official in President Buhari’s administration.

But debunking the allegations after the presentation of the investigation reports, the State House of Assembly Speaker, Najeem Salaam, said the funds, which he referred to as “bailout loan” were judicioulsy utilized to pay workers’ salaries and pensions.

Salaam dared Aregbesola’s critics to approach the Assembly for documents stating how the state government spent the funds, asking them to always support their arguments with facts and figures.

The speaker also denied that the state legislators were stooges of the state governor as being insinuated in some quarters in the state, saying, “We are not O YES members. What is paramount to us is the development of Osun. We don’t need to fight the executives before we make resolutions. Once they (Executives) abide by the resolution of the House, we don’t need to fight them. We are not rubber stamp honourable members.”