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PDP disputes Aregbesola’s claims on Osun debt profile

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  • All debts will be settled in 2019 – Governor

Clement Adeyi, Osogbo

The Osun State Chapter of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has accused Governor Rauf Aregbesola of feeding the public with falsehoods concerning the true state of the state’s debt profile and outstanding projects, saying that the governor is not likely to meet his goals before leaving office in November.

The Governor spoke at the weekend during this year’s edition of the “Ogbeni Till Daybreak” programme on the issue, among others.

But chairman of the party, Soji Adagunodo, in a statement in Osogbo, upbraided the Governor’s claims, describing the event as a “jamboree” and a night of shame and falsehood.

The statement read in part:

“It was another all-night dance of shame on Friday, as the State Governor Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola held his once in a season jamboree called Ogbeni Till Daybreak. In his usual indecent manner, the governor, while responding to questions from newsmen, resorted to a series of diatribes and falsehoods which are meant to cover his tracks of lack of vision, incompetence and corruption-laden seven and half years of governance.”

“We have, therefore, found it pertinent to respond to a few of Mr Governor’s falsehoods on the programme in order to set the records straight and help members of the public have a better understanding of the issues in focus,” the statement added.

“In answer to questions on the true state of our indebtedness, Ogbeni Aregbesola, who put the total debt of the state at 171.4 billion naira, stated that the various debts would be fully paid by the year 2020. In particular, the Governor said the sum of 30 billion naira, being conventional bonds, would be fully liquidated in November 2019, while another sum of 11.4 billion naira, being SUKUK loan, would be fully paid one year later. These claims are certainly false and misleading. The truth is that there is a sum of 88.6 billion naira which the Federal Government helped Osun State restructure as bonds, the full payment of which runs to 2034. There is also another 30 billion naira bond with an equal lifespan which was not disclosed by the Governor. What about the 39.4 billion naira bailout funds? Also in March last year, the government obtained a 65 million dollar loan from the Islamic Development Bank for a water project repayable in 25 years. Did this escape the memory of Mr Governor? The truth is that, contrary to the assertion of the governor, Osun will be paying some of the loans obtained by the Aregbesola administration till the year 2042.”

O-HUB PROJECT

“In response to another question on the programme, Ogbeni Aregbesola blamed farmers in Osun State for the failure of his O-HUB PROJECT, which was meant to supply agricultural produce to Lagos markets through the rail system. When reminded that the bus terminal recently commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari in Ikeja was originally meant to be the landing point for the O-HUB programme, the Governor said Osun farmers refused to make use of the rail because they had no trust in it! What a childish lie by Mr Governor. We make bold to say that, like many other initiative of this government, the O-HUB was a big scam ab initio. We are in possession of some revelations as to how several millions of naira was taken out of government purse for a project that never took off. For example, why did Aregbesola approve the payment of a sum of 9.9 million naira as rent of an office for O-HUB in Lagos in January 2012? Why did he approve another 9.7 million naira for the decoration of the same property? Who owns the building in Lagos? Earlier in December of 2011, a sum of 2 million was purportedly paid to the Nigerian Railway Corporation for free train services for the Christmas season, while 13 million naira was spent on the publicity of the progranme. The money was paid under the O-HUB head.

“Another 8 million naira was taken out in April of the next year. In any case, was the O-HUB project conceived without due consultation with the farmers who were supposed to use the services? More will soon be disclosed on this monumental failure of the Aregbesola government in this area.

“Ogbeni Aregbesola finally admitted that the over 15 billion naira spent on the airport has gone down the drain. However, in a manner smacking of crass irresponsibility, the Governor attempted to shift the blame of his failure on the concessionaire. It is highly irresponsible for the Governor to attempt to shift the blame of his failure on an innocent concessionaire. The fact is that the Aregbesola administration has turned the airport project into another conduit for taking out public funds. Before the last concession of the project, there had been at least two earlier contracts which suffered a similar fate. Government spending on the project has grown from the initial N4.7b to N11b and then to N15b under the last arrangement. The last concessionaire didn’t fail, he was only being sensible to avoid a situation where he would be made to inherit an excruciating burden resulting from previous mismanagement of huge public funds committed to the white elephant project. The Aregbesola administration should come out clean on this project and stop trying to be clever by half!”

Meanwhile, Aregbesola made assurances that all loans would be settled next year. He explained that the conventional loan would be settled next year, while the N11.4 billion Sukuk would be fully paid back in 2020.

He disclosed that the total state debt was N143.6 billion, against the figures being circulated by members of the opposition party in the state.

This was contained in a statement by the Commissioner for Informarion, Lani Baderinwa.

“There will be no kobo left of the N30bn conventional loan in 2019. By September 2020, N11.4bn Sukuk would have been settled,” the statement quoted the governor as saying.

Aregbesola said the state’s debt profile was not as bad as being speculated, maintaining that the loans were taken to finance capital projects for the development of the state.

“The reason we borrowed for infrastructure development and not for investment is simple. In a liberal economy like ours, government has no business doing business. The responsibility of government is to provide an enabling environment for businesses to thrive,” he said.

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