Facts and figures versus fallacy –
By Funmi Branco
lovers of democracy and good governance must be troubled by the crisis in Ogun State over local government allocations. When the chairman of Ijebu East Local Government Area, Hon. Wale Adedayo, accused the state governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, of diverting local government (LG) funds, there were not a few Nigerians who felt outraged because the allegation was such a weighty, damning one, and it is a fact that state governments had often been accused of strangulating local governments in the country.
And so, naturally, many commentators hailed Adedayo for drawing attention to what they thought was the haemorrhage going on in Ogun State. However, as they waited for evidence proving the governor's guilt, they got none. Instead, evidence from all quarters showed that the now suspended Ogun East LG boss had only aimed at creating chaos in the state by making false allegations against the governor and setting the people against their government.
First, Adedayo's own colleagues not only debunked his allegations, they in fact undertook a peace mission to the Governor's Office in Oke Mosan, Abeokuta, to apologise for the embarrassment their chairman had caused them, knowing that at no time had the state government tampered with their funds. Although the chairmen prostrating before the governor in line with Yoruba culture generated some hoopla, the fundamental question is whether the governor was guilty as charged or not. Alas, the governor's innocence was demonstrated very clearly. Apart from the local government chairmen, members of the constitutional organ responsible for disbursing the funds in question, the Ogun State Joint Account and Allocation Committee (JAAC), debunked the allegation, saying that they had always received their allocations.
If they stopped at that, the matter would have been finally laid to rest. But they did not. They went ahead to confirm the state government's claim that rather than diverting local government funds, the state government had actually had to augment the funds during the COVID-19 crisis. Besides, the state government itself, giving a breakdown of the funds allocated to the 20 LGs since 2019, confirmed the figures rolled out by the National Bureau of Statistics.
With this barrage of unavailable evidence, it is most unconscionable for the suspended LG boss to still be inciting the public against the governor, seeking to upturn the prevailing atmosphere of peace in the state. And that is why the security agencies must be ready to unearth his true motivations and the brains behind him as he breaches public peace. After his release from DSS interrogation this week, the suspended chair, who is facing a barrage of allegations of financial sleaze from members of his own council, made inciting comments, disparaging Governor Abiodun and his government, and portraying himself as a people's hero. Well, the man who accused his former boss, Gbenga Daniel, of running a killer squad as governor needs to mind the thorns as he hauls stones while inhabiting a glass house. Apparently, Wale Adedayo's tactic is to turn his lie into truth through regurgitation. As a person who once claimed to have studied propaganda and public opinion manipulation while in school, it is clear that Adedayo's interest is not just mischief but a calculated attempt to discredit Abiodun and bring down his government. Facts are facts and falsehood is falsehood. A situation where anyone is allowed to churn out deliberate falsehood against reality cannot and should not be tolerated in any democracy.
Wale Adedayo is doing the job given to him by political forces, but Nigerians thankfully have the opportunity of listening to the other side of the story. If you know the truth, the truth will set you free. Indeed, as many have asked, if the LGs had got no allocations since 2019, how then had they been paying teachers, healthcare workers, members of traditional councils, pensioners and local government workers? Why is it that Wale Adedayo has made damning allegations against Senator Gbenga Daniel, Chief Segun Osoba, Governor Dapo Abiodun and anyone that has helped him at one point or the other in his troubled odyssey? He once wrote a book alleging that his boss was sleeping with his wife, and that members of his family do not attain the age of 40, whereas he did so by appeasing to his gods.
The world must know that this guy is lying. He knows that people's blood would boil when they hear of zero allocation to LG councils, but the people who took him seriously are now regretting doing so. Available evidence indicates that in the last 26 months that he has been chairman, he attended JAAC meetings, where LG funds are disbursed after being received from the Federation Account, 15 times. If during all those times that he attended JAAC meetings, Ijebu East and other LGs had no allocations, then what was shared at those JAAC meetings? Why is he suddenly claiming zero allocation to councils in Ogun State after more than two years in office? Why do the records show that, like other LG chairmen, he has collected N3 million every month as imprest, while his council also shared from all the allocations given since 2019 when Governor Abiodun came on board, including the N5.1 billion allocation shared in August this year; the N4.4 billion shared in July, and the 5.1bn shared in June and the N4.5 billion shared in May? Is he saying that Ijebu East has not paid workers since 2019?
Rather than stealing LG funds, the state government has augmented their allocations to enable them meet their obligations. Let Wale Adedayo challenge the facts available to the public if he can. In 2020, N43.121 billion was budgeted for first line charges, while N34.750 billion was received from the federation account for the 20 LGs, leaving a deficit of N6.619 billion. In 2021, the LGs got N38.723 billion, while payment for first line charges was put at N47.845 billion. In 2022, the LGs got N48.074 billion from the Federation Account, whereas first line charges amounted to N54.182 billion, leaving a deficit of N17.4 billion by January 2023, covered by the state government. Adedayo lied like Lucifer just to stoke crisis in the Gateway State. The fact, quite simply, is that Governor Abiodun is not a signatory to the LG accounts and could not have diverted any LG funds. During the COVID-19 crisis, most of the LGs did not pay PAYEE tax because of the shortfall in federal allocations, and deducting this tax after the crisis does not amount to diversion in any form. Wale Adedayo is desperately trying to plunge Ogun State into crisis. He must be taken to court very quickly lest he set Ogun State on fire.
•Branco wrote through [email protected]