Arabambi: Amosun has destroyed economic and political gains of previous administrations
Comrade Arabambi Abayomi Oluwafemi is the Chairman of Labour Party (LP) in Ogun State. He spoke to GBENGA AKINFENWA on the rising debt profile of the state, Amosun’s request for road construction refund on roads and the party’s magic to wrest power from the ruling party in 2019.
Your party appears to have grievances with the Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun and his administration, what are they?
We have no grievances; neither do we have any grouse against the governor. Let me start with a quote from Martins Luther King Jnr, who said ‘the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in the moment of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at a time of challenge and controversy’.
Our party’s position on the administration of Governor Ibikunle Amosun’s led All Progressives Congress (APC) government is not about hatred, but because we in Labour Party are staunch advocate of good governance, that is why we are aligning ourselves with the quote from Luther King Jnr., that we oppose oppression, we oppose mal-governance, we oppose maladministration, we oppose incompetence, we oppose cluelessness, we oppose political summersault, and fraud associated with Amosun-led government.
His government has destroyed the political and economic gains of the past administrations. The reason is very simple, they lack focus and direction, our criticism are constructive and we will not relent until this government stops its toga of arrogance, deceit, monumental fraud and embrace good governance to better the economic value and provide equal opportunity and even development to the electorate, that is our grouse.
Many people believe you are discrediting Amosun’s government to score cheap political goals and enjoy people’s sympathy ahead 2019.
We don’t look for sympathy; we are party of the people, by the people and for the people. I can describe this claim or insinuation as nonsensical because for anybody to insinuate that we are criticising this administration to score cheap political points is very unfortunate.
Let me go straight to the point concerning this. This government in 2011 told the people of the state that it has a five-point agenda: Qualitative education; Free Healthcare delivery; Employment generation; Urban renewal and infrastructure; and Security. The agenda is distractions. It is very unfortunate that we have brought ourselves to this sorry part. Amosun’s government is very intolerant, they are running a secret cult government, tramples on people’s rights and abridges civil servants’ economic freedom and liberty.
In 2013, the governor presented a budget of N211.79b; he said as at September 30, 2013 that the budget performance was at 64.2 per cent. In 2014, he presented what he termed budget of consolidation-N210.2b. You’ll realise that the 2014 budget is lower to 2013, the governor’s explanation was that there was dwindling revenue from the Federal Government, this affected all states not only Ogun.
In that budget also, Capital expenditure was N117.45b that is 65.9 per cent and N92.7b for recurrent expenditure. Out of that recurrent expenditure, N67.15b was for personnel cost, like Pension and gratuity that was what was in the budget for 2014. Education gulped N43.99b, the governor also said 14 standard road projects that are currently ongoing would be completed, while he planned to commence new road projects, which included-Papalanto/Ilaro road; Adatan to Enu Gada; Lafenwa to Ayetoro; and so on.
In 2015, budget for education was N40.17b, while in 2016 the budget was N47.054b.
As at October 2016, the budget performance according to him was 56.2 per cent, while in 2014 it was 64 per cent, you can see the retrogression. By our own assertion, it is clear why Ogun State education is nothing to write home about. Why did I say this? This government constructed 20 Mega schools; they awarded these schools in 2012 at the cost of N1.65b each. Now, with variation cost since then till now, a period of over five years, this fraudulent APC government jacked-up the construction cost to N2.3b each, if you multiply that by 20 you’ll have N46b contract for the construction of Mega schools.
We have about 500 public Secondary Schools and 1,500 Primary Schools. In each of the Mega Schools, government plans 300 students each multiplied by 20, which will be 6,000. As of today, the contractors are faceless cronies, they are ghost contractors with no address, and it shows that they just awarded the contracts to APC executive members.
The schools are like zoological gardens, where you can do hunting expedition, because bushes have grown over the schools, yet they claimed to have spent N46b. Though the schools were painted, there is actually nothing inside. Last session, our Senior Secondary School One students didn’t get printed results, teachers had to dictate their scores to them to write, because there was no money to print result sheets. Including their primary school counterparts, they sat in dilapidated classrooms in most of these schools, where there were no chairs and roofs, some students even study with dangerous animals like snakes, whereas this government had allocated over N140b to the sector in the last three years with nothing to show for it.
Go to Abeokuta, Ijebu, Ilaro and check any of our public schools, you’ll never see any new structure called classrooms, yet this government said they wanted to construct mega schools at N2.3b yet, they couldn’t even renovate any of the schools. This government has made our education to nosedive from bad to worst, due to their incompetence.
The state chapter of National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) passed vote of no confidence on the commissioner of education and the governor over poor performance and gross incompetence. This is done to appropriate funds to their personal projects. Amosun should not forget the adage that says he who fetches insect-infected firewood should not complain when lizards come visiting. So, we are not seeking for sympathy we are saying the fact.
You mentioned the issue of road construction; recently you sent a petition to the National Assembly on road construction refund claim by the state totaling N223b, how sure are you of the facts?
The Debt Management Office (DMO) is a public institution, if you Google it, you’ll get this. As I speak with you the state’s external loan stands at N103b and $113m, which is over N160b for external loan only.
There was a time we wrote the House of Assembly to impeach the governor due to the debt burden. When the governor borrowed money from financial institutions and these monies are not always accompanied by expenditure, that means it is shrouded in secrecy. That was why we demanded his impeachment.
At that time we wrote the Assembly, we knew that most of the loans were not part of the budget because whenever he needs money to construct his personal edifice, he’ll just go and meet the legislators and concoct executive bill to them, where the Speaker and others would pass it and give him the go-ahead to borrow. Now, we have a letter written to them requesting for a copy of the budget, but in a letter sent to us, they told us point blank that the Assembly does not have copies of the budget; that we should go to the Ministry of Justice. What they are telling us was that Amosun must have invaded their registry, took away all copies of the budget and handed it over to the Attorney General for any form of manipulation; this is where we have found ourselves.
The local debt of Ogun State is N197b, the next after Delta and Lagos. Delta’s is N320b; while Lagos is N218b. For God’s sake, what did they use this money for? That was why our party said Amosun should be impeached; he has succeeded in silencing the Assembly, this present Assembly is the worst in the history of Ogun State, they rubber stamp whatever the governor sends to them.
But the loans were secured for improved infrastructure and development of the state, which are visible for all to see. Are you saying they are not state’s priority or were they inflated?
The infrastructure you are talking about does not exist in Ogun State and I am going to tell you the reason. The visible infrastructure is the 15-storey building being constructed by Amosun, the edifice built by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) and the gigantic edifice-Supermarket owned by the Speaker. Those are the infrastructure in the state.
All the roads they claim to be constructing are mere application of asphalt on gravels, it is evident, the one they did in Totoro at how much per kilometer? Today, everything is in shambles; from Totoro to Itoku you’ll see the state of the road. When a market collapsed in Itoku, killing two people, due to substandard material, what happened? The governor said he took responsibility; the building built with about N800m is wasting away, is this what they are spending the loans on?
As at March 2016, we owed N197b and these loans would be repaid for over 65 years. Out of the bailout, 11 states approached the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for restructuring of the loans; Ogun State is one of them. The DMO converted part of our loan to over 20 years, out of the amount, Ogun alone rescheduled N65.4b; Osun State converted N80.6b; Delta State converted N69.8; while Imo N37.1b to 20 years. How old is the governor that he owes a debt we’ll use 20 years to pay, which means when another administration comes in, that one would first pay moratorium and before you know it the debt would be pushed to over 100 years before it would be settled.
Secondly, Ogun State collected N75.4b as bailout; remember I told you that he complained of dwindling revenue from the Federal Government in 2014, reason why he said the budget did not perform. The Minister of Finance was very clear about it that he use should use it to pay pension, gratuity and salaries, but today, what happens?
The last time he paid gratuity was in April 2013, so gratuity of 2014, 2015, 2016 and from January to May of 2017 are still outstanding.
As I am speaking, the government took N10.752b as Paris Club return, which was paid into Sterling Bank, Abeokuta, with account name-Paris Club Refund. We have been asking how this money was spent, he doesn’t have it, because he is running a secret cult government, that is why we are saying that he has failed woefully, that is as far as debt is concerned.
Every month, DMO deducts N1.185b from the state allocation. How do we manage to do capital expenditure, that means from March, the governor might have been borrowing more from financial institutions? If anybody wants to verify they can do so from the office of the DMO.
On the issue of roads, in 2015, this government out of their fraudulent act presented to the National Assembly with other 15 states an amount totaling N580.500b for various rehabilitation works concerning Federal roads in their territory. They are demanding for refund. It was a joint committee on Finance and Works, headed by Hon. Toby Okechukwu and Babangida Ibrahim Mahuta, but out of the N580b, Ogun State alone is claiming N222, 977,000, while Akwa Ibom follows with N75.9b, all the newspapers of Wednesday, March 23, 2015 carried it. You can look at the margin between Ogun and Akwa Ibom that came second with N75.9b.
To our surprise and shock, Commissioners of Finance, Works and a Permanent Secretary accompanied the governor to present this estimate to the committee. They claimed that they have even paid the sum of N123.7b to contractors, while there was no single reimbursement from the Federal Government.
Amosun claimed that the roads they have completed included-Sango-Ijoko-Ojodu-Abiodun-Alagbole road, which they claimed was awarded at the rate of N34.9b; they claimed to have completed Agbara-Atan, Lusada-Igbesa, Lusada-Alapoti road; Lafenwa/Ayetoro road with N48b; and Papalanto-Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro, which the governor also mentioned in his 2014 budget, that it was done with N48.7b; and OGTV-Ibadan-Brewery road at N13.9b; among other roads.
Other states that went with Ogun include-Zamfara-N57.92b; Anambra-N43.427; Oyo-N32.93b; Enugu-N25.930b; Cross River-N25.701b; Ebonyi-N21.85b; Plateau-N19b; Sokoto-N13.103b; Kwara-N12.855b; Ekiti-over N11b; Abia-N5.2b; Adamawa-N4b; Gombe-N3.851b; and Bauchi-N1.9b.
Why is Ogun’s claim so high? The answer is simple-the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun is a co-traveller in this act of absurdity, they are trying to defraud the Federal Government. We have proofs that the roads have not been done; we have a photograph, that was why we wrote that petition that no money should be released to the state until they come for verification.
We have taken them to court to challenge them and we’ll sue him and the Minister of Finance, on their plan to dupe the state and Nigeria. When you want to claim money for the job not done, how on earth do you want us to assimilate that? This act is not only fraudulent; it is criminal for a government to forge figures. If we are in a sane society, Amosun should be in detention now, with the two commissioners, the permanent secretary that went with him to Abuja and the minister of finance, they are supposed to undergo trial.
If Amosun cannot be arrested, I don’t see reason why government should be probing Dasuki and why former governors of Sokoto, Benue and Kano should be arrested for fraud, when under their nose the Minister of Finance in collaboration with Amosun are trying to defraud Federal Government to the tune of N223b for job not done. We want them to come and show Nigerians the completed roads.
On February 28, 2017, the House committee through a motion said there is urgent need to carryout verification of local debts owed by the Federal Government before payment. There is a claim that there is too much uncertainty surrounding the amount of debt owed local contractors by the Federal Government. Why some put it at N2.2t, others said N10.61tr; the House said they are aware that the estimated debt owed may not be real. They resolved to mandate the committee on Loan, Debt management to verify and report back to the House within four months for further legislative actions. The four months should lapse by June 28. For now, Amosun has been running helter skelter to collect this money before the due date, because he has the control of the Finance Minister under his armpit and that was what necessitated our petition to the National Assembly, to inform them that the money should not be paid until there is proper verification of the roads.
You spoke about taking the governor, Minister of Finance and others to court, but currently you took the state to court, was it on different issues?
When we wrote the House of Assembly under the Freedom of Information Act (FoI), we demanded information on all roads the state government awarded since 2011 till date. We demanded for names of the contractors, cost of the contract, amount paid so far, the balance, and expected date of completion. When we wrote this, the governor specifically told the legislators that they should not provide us the information and because they have failed, we approached the State High Court for order of mandamus to compel them to furnish us with the fact and figures.
Just recently, the governor awarded contract for the dualisation of the Kobape road to the Sagamu interchange, at the sum of N65b, but four weeks ago, the Deputy Speaker was on radio to say they wont be able to continue the project anymore, due to paucity of fund, stating that they have expended over N40b to construct the uncompleted bridge and road, which is not up to one kilometer.
What they have constructed is not commensurate with what they claimed to have spent. The construction started after the MKO Abiola Stadium and stopped in front of President Olusegun Obasanjo Library. That is what they claimed to have expended over N40b out of the estimated N65b for the entire project. The question is, when you presented to the House that you want to construct a 10-lane road from Abeokuta-Sagamu interchange, at the cost of N65b, including compensation to those whose property would be destroyed and you returned that you can no longer continue, why did they embark on the project, when they knew they cannot complete it? They are claiming that government is a continuum, despite the governor’s slogan-Gbogbo e la’ma se (We are going to do everything).
They constructed markets, the commissioner for works was also on radio, he had the audacity to ask why the people are complaining that shops were not allocated to them. He said people from Lagos are getting shops there. You asked peasant traders to vacate their stalls that you are going to build shops. Where do you expect tomato sellers, Ewedu, plantain, garri, rice sellers to come and pay N300, 000 per annum? Where do they expect them to get the money?
Let me tell you what they did, they have allocated those shops to their cronies-wives of commissioners, political office holders, despite collecting N10, 000 each from the traders for allocation. Over 2,000 traders paid the N10, 000 in Itoku market alone, where does the allocation money go? That means the governor is also defrauding people that don’t have money.
Go to Omida, it’s the same issue. They have turned the state to their personal property. We challenge them to publish names of allottees of the shops; what manner of maladministration is that? How can you use taxpayers’ money to build shops and share it to your cronies? That you are in government nobody can do anything to you, that you control the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Nigerian Police, the Army, and anybody can be arrested? This masquerade dance will end one day whether he likes it or not, nobody stays in power perpetually. One day, if government doesn’t leave them, they will leave government. They will be shown the exit door in 2019. Amosun should be in the book of record as the world’s most fraudulent government official ever in history.