The immediate past Commissioner for Finance in Ogun State, Mr Adewale Oshinowo, has challenged Governor Dapo Abiodun to say the truth about the N58.4 billion debt, which appeared to have been incurred within 18 months of his administration.
PRESS INFORMANT reports that the latest report published by the Debt Management Office (DMO) showed that Ogun State’s domestic debt profile had increased from N95 billion in June 2019 to over N153 billion in December 2020.
However, Governor Abiodun had in a reaction on Monday denied borrowing N58 billion in 18 months.
He accused former Governor Ibikunle Amosun’s government of not disclosing N50 billion in unpaid pensions, gratuities and outstanding staff salaries, which he claimed were added to the debt profile to arrive at the N153 billion published by the DMO.
Reacting in a statement, the former Finance Commissioner, Oshinowo said the previous government did not want to join issues with the current administration in Ogun State.
However, he said, “the State Government, in its wisdom, chose to call us out with its tons of lies and misinformation carelessly crafted to obfuscate issues and concerns raised by the Debt Management Office (DMO) in the just-released Data on Debt Figures of the 36 States of the Federation and the FCT, where the figures showed the Ogun State’s skyrocketing debt at a time when by general acclaim, nothing is on the ground to justify such huge debt.”
According to him, “the claims of the Ogun State Government on the issue of its debt profile are deliberate lies. The alibi offered by Ogun State Government in response to the DMO report is a laughable red herring that bothers on financial illiteracy and calculated mischief.
”They were lies spurned to cover up inexplicable inadequacies.”
“For the records, and particularly for the benefit of our people and posterity, we say clearly that we did not owe or leave any liability not captured in our end of tenure and handover report. We said that much and laid out the figures during an earlier publication on September 28, 2020, made in response to Ogun State Government claims on the workers’ general strike.
“It appears that the Dapo Abiodun administration has the penchant to wish away issues and crisis by simply hanging same on the necks of the immediate past administration. Like they say in popular parlance, things never work or get resolved by buck-passing,” the former Commissioner stated.
Oshinowo maintained that “the Government of Ogun State should be sincere and factual to tell the good people of Ogun State the truth on the N58.4bn difference between June 2019 after we left office and December 2020 and how much debt it has accumulated in the period under review.”
He urged Ogun people to “wait for DMO figures by June 2021 and December 2021 when all the lies and manipulations of the present Administration will further come to light.”
Our Position, as contained in a publication authored by Mr Tokunbo Talabi, Secretary to State Government dated Thursday, 17 September 2020, the records, notes and accounts detailed in our End of Tenure report were validated in paragraph 1.1 of the publication. What is more, the same records were captured in the Ogun State Government returns to the DMO save for the two columns on Pensions and Gratuity arrears, and Salaries arrears and other claims. Deliberatively, and with a purpose to serve, these two heads contained misleading records and returns designed to mislead.
”For clarifications, our Administration cleared 18 months arrears of deductions and 3 months of unpaid salaries owed by the Administration that we succeeded. For other agencies and tertiary institutions, we cleared several months in arrears, in some instances two years and more.
”Relatedly, we paid full salaries, pensions and other emoluments between 29 May 2011 to 29 May 2019. The records also show that verifiable gratuities arrears owed by us stood at N22.48 billion, out of which N10.8 billion was released to the current Administration in the first week of July 2019. By the time we align these figures, the net outstanding liability on gratuity left by our Administration was below N12 billion. Save for the two queried columns, our figures tally with the accounts of Ogun State Government as contained in its publication under reference and with DMO figures.
“With all due respect, we invite the current Administration to come clean of how much they had paid in gratuity since they took office, and more importantly, how much more they had accumulated. If for instance, the DMO records show that Ogun State Government already owed N10.839 in salary arrears as of December 2020, it is left to see what the figures will climb to in December 2021.
“The DMO mandate typically covers and reports on institutional debts and long-tenured structured loans (between 10 and 20 years) not operational and routine obligations like salaries, pensions and gratuities. We are curious as to the true intentions of the Ogun State Government in this attempt to transfer these routine obligations to DMO. Were they deliberately accumulating debt stock to prepare the grounds for more liabilities? Time will tell.
“For us, we stand by our figures as contained in our Hand Over notes and End of Tenure report. We do not want Ogun stakeholders and the general public to be misled or fed cruel lies by an Administration that is inwardly and outwardly deficient in governance and idea.”