The Senate may clash with the Osun State House of Assembly over the plan of the former to probe how Governor Rauf Aregbesola utilised N34.988bn bailout given the state by the Federal Government to pay workers’ outstanding salaries.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on States and Local Government Administration, Abdullahi Gumel, had informed Governor Rauf Aregbesola in a letter dated November 3 of the plan of the members of the committee to arrive in the state on December 7 to probe how the money was disbursed.
Gumel said the senators would meet with the state’s Commissioner for Finance; the accountant general of the state; the head of service; the managements of First Bank, Wema Bank and Zenith Bank where the money was domiciled as well as the state House of Assembly’s Committee Chairman on Finance; Commissioner for Local Government Affairs and any other person the governor deemed necessary could provide answers to the application of the loan.
But the assembly declared last week at a plenary that the Senate lacked the power to probe how Aregbesola applied the bailout specifically given to pay workers’ salaries.
The Speaker, Mr. Najeem Salam, subsequently directed some of the government officials and banks which the Senate committee had asked to appear before it to also appear before the state House of Assembly on the same date for the same purpose.
But the Osun State chapter of the PDP has described the move by the state lawmakers to prevent the Senate from probing the utilisation of the funds as a cover-up and an indication that the governor had something he did not want the public to know about the application of the bailout.
The spokesperson for the party in the state, Mr. Diran Odeyemi, said in a statement on Saturday that it was laughable that the state lawmakers, who had been hibernating for a long time just woke up to defend the governor when the Senate was about to probe him on the bailout.
The statement read, “The overfed assembly men said they were ready to probe the utilisation of the funds after the Senate committee had indicated it was visiting the state to check Aregbesola’s book. People should ask the jesters called Osun assembly men, were they not alive when Aregbesola collected bailout funds meant to pay workers for one whole year and he only paid them two months and declared he had exhausted the funds?
“This same Aregbesola had been paying workers half of their statutory take home for over one year, yet Osun Assembly men didn’t see the need to intervene. Aregbesola had ruled Osun without a cabinet for over two years now since he was elected for another term, the lawmakers didn’t raise eyebrow over that.
“The governor also refused to conduct the local government election since the last one held in the state under a PDP administration 10 years ago, yet the state lawmakers saw nothing wrong in all these.
“We remind these idle lawmakers that the bailout collected by Aregbesola is not statutory fund but a special arrangement by the Federal Government to assist salary-defaulting states. So, if the guarantor of the funds, the Federal Government chooses to look into how the funds were expended, no one can stop it.
“Moreover, Aregbesola himself had declared he was ready to give account of how he spent the funds, why is the Osun House of Assembly constituting itself into a stumbling block, with this their stand, they have further exposed themselves as weak and inactive.”
The PDP had last year accused the governor of fixing part of the funds in some banks and said the governor spent part of the bailout on the ongoing construction of some road projects.