Sunday, September 8, 2019 1:24 am
By Paul Oladele
Governor Dapo Abiodun is the quintessential gentleman. Otherwise he would have turned up the heat on his predecessor, Ibikunle Amosun, now a senator representing Ogun Central. Abiodun has largely ignored the distractions and tantrums being thrown by the ex-governor, through his former commissioners and adopted party, the Allied Peoples Movement. But not all the distractions can be ignored especially when they are targeted at pulling the wool over the eyes of the public and setting up the new government for public ridicule and discontent. APM should halt the penchant for maliciously false information and choose to be a responsible opposition by providing alternative views based on facts, not fiction.
Not a few citizens were taken in by the decision of the former governor to remain in the All Progressives Congress (APC) while asking his loyalists seeking elective offices to move en mass to the newly formed Allied Peoples Movement (APM). The reason given by Amosun was that he needed to assist President Buhari to win his re–election! What a ruse! Just as I wrote then in the media, a general should lead his men in battle. The fact is, Amosun was not prepared to risk his own election in the new party, the APM. He was not prepared to take the gamble. Buhari’sre-election was only used as smokescreen. Indeed, Buhari’s case would have been better served if the former governor had led his men to the APM. All APC supporters would have voted for Buhari while all APM supporters would have voted for Buhari. But the singular action of Amosun to float and fund APM while he remained in APC caused considerable confusion, which reduced the anticipated total votes of Buhari in the presidential election, especially when the opposition Peoples DemocraticParty was completely in disarray in Ogun state. Make no mistake about it, most of the non literate APM voters would have voted APC all the way in the National Assembly elections and Amosun would have lost his senatorial bid had he decamped to APM!
In effect, ex-governor Amosun pulled a fast one on his own loyalists in order to return to the senate. Today, most of his loyalists who left for APM are languishing in the wilderness while Amosun is enjoying himself in Abuja. As observed in the previous intervention, the overwhelming majority of Amosun’s political office holders suffered untold financial hardship. Some of them confirmed that the ex-governor 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.
Just as I predicted in my widely circulated article ahead of the 2019 general elections, the APM candidates returned from the polls virtually empty-handed. Had Amosun gone to APM, he would have lost his election. Had his Chief of Staff Tolu Odebiyi, the son of a frontline Awoist, Chief JAO Odebiyi, scorned hisprogressive pedigree and jumped to APM, as demanded by Amosun, he would not be in the Senate today. Amosun deployed all the machinery of governance and state resources to the governorship election of the APM candidate but God proved that He is greater than man. Abiodun won his election fair and square.
After the victory of Abiodun in the March 9 governorship poll, I warned the APC to be proactive as the sources of revenue of the state would be sabotaged by the departing governor in order to set up the new government for public discontent. A proof of that was shown in the 100 per cent upfront payment by the ex-governor to a few contractors for contracts awarded on the eve of his departure from office in order to ensure no money was inherited by the Abiodun government. Indeed by its own admission, as stated recently in the press release by the former Commissioner for Finance, Wale Oshinowo, the Amosun government left in Ogun state’s treasury just a paltry N2.5 billion from the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs). It is ludicrous if not inane for Amosun to claim that the monthly share from the federation account, which was not even available in May, was part of what he handed over to Abiodun. Even more preposterouswas the claim by the former government that the refund for Pay As You Earn from federal workers in Ogun state, which was released long after Abiodun became governor, was part of the money inherited by the new government!
The fact is Amosun deliberately EMPTIED the treasury by paying some selected contractors ahead for projects not yet executed in order to set up Abiodun for public discontent and for personal reasons which only a judicial probe can reveal. It would have even made sense if the departing government had used the money to offset the entitlements of civil servants, staffs of Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Tai Solarin College of Education and the political office holders, so that the new government would not have to confront backlog of unpaid entitlements.
Is it not surprising it is the same Amosun administration, which left nothing in the treasury but humongous debts in the neighborhood of two hundred billion (N200 billion) that is accusing the new government, through APM, of not doing anything in its 100 days in office? The new governor may need to draw from the experiences of the former political office holders in order to free the different sources of IGR and further deliver the dividends of democracy to its people.
For now, the Abiodun government has started off on a good note by reopening MAPOLY after three years of comatose orchestratedby Amosun’s thoughtless policy, reducing the social tensiongenerated across the state by the sudden appointment of 75 Obas without due process and setting up committees to review the litany of projects started and abandoned by Amosun as well as last-minute employment and promotions in the civil service that have affected the morale of many senior civil servants.
The Abiodun government is paying salaries as and when due, constructing roads and buildings, and carrying out palliative works on most of Amosun’s abandoned projects in order to ameliorate the stress, trauma and agonies of residents. On this score, one must commend the maturity of the governor for not stopping altogether all the projects started by his predecessor. The money spent and being spent on the projects belongs to Ogunstate. The Amosun government ended on May 28, 2019 and the Abiodun government has the power to stop altogether or renegotiate the terms of the projects. It is Abiodun that is now in charge and takes responsibility for the ongoing projects across the state. It is therefore myopic and crude for APM to suggest that Abiodun has not done anything in 100 days. Indeed, he has surpassed the achievements of the previous administration within the same period.
* Barr Oladele, public policy commentator, writes from Akute, Ogun State