A rights group, the Centre for Human Rights and Social justice (CHRSJ) has accused Osun State governor, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola and his aides of stealing the sum of $1billion, money belonging to the people of the state in the last seven years.
When converted, the group stated that the funds amounting to about N365billion is said to have been stolen from the state government’s coffers in the last seven years in circumstances shrouded in secrecy in various phantom projects that have been embarked upon by the Rauf Aregbesola led state government.
In a signed statement by the Executive Chairman of the group, Comrade Adeniyi, Alimi Sulaiman and copies were made available to newsmen on Monday, also lamented that the state has been plunged into perpetual debt burden which payment expected to span 20 years after Aregbesola might have exited office as the state’s Chief executive. According to the group, the last seven years of Rauf Aregbesola’s administration have been laced with criminal diversion of public funds, misplacement of priority, debt burden and capital flight.
Specifically, the group averred that Aregbesola has used his first term in office to destroy his second term as no single project was initiated; adding that second term in office of the present administration has been a wasted era.
Apart from Aregbesola, the statement also listed a former Commissioner for Finance and Economic Development, Mr. Wale Bolorunduro, his counterpart in the Special Duties and Regional Integration and now Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Ajibola Bashiru, immediate past State Account-General, Mr. J.A. Babatunde, and current State Accountant-General, Mr. S.A. Kolawole in the criminal conspiracy against the people of the state.
Others similarly accused include; a former Special Adviser on Environment and now Commissioner for Regional Integration, Mr. Bola Ilori, former Special Adviser on Works, Late Oladepo Amuda, Commissioner for Local Government, Mr. Kolapo Alimi and Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mr. Jaiyeoba Alagbada, State ORAMP coordinator, Mr. Adelere Oriolowo,
To buttress its position, the CHRSJ disclosed that its sister organization (Civil Societies Coalition for the Emancipation of Osun State-CSCEOS), would soon come out with its position after a comprehensive check on the proposed 2018 budget from sector to sector, maintaining that Aregbesola should be held responsible to account for all the funds accrued to the State during his eight years to be completed tenure of office.
“We are not moved with the window dressing uncompleted road projects embarked upon by the present administration but we are very sad to note that the state has lost so much in the last over 7 years that Mr. Rauf Aregbesola has been in power to phantom projects.Over $1b amounting to N365billion being part of loan incurred from national and international financial institutions to the state has been frittered away by the governor and his cronies under several guises.
“We are still studying situation but what we can tell the public now is the total amount of money we have since discovered but we know that the figure could certainly be much higher than the one we have now.” Sulaiman stated in the release.
Appraising the development further, the group maintained that if 83 percent of the N500billion debt accrued to the State by Aregbesola in his first term of office were not syphoned by him and his cronies, it would have been used to transform all the constitutionally recognized local government areas of the state beyond our imagination.
On the magnitude of the issue at hand, Sulaiman stated that “Concern stakeholders do not need a forensic expert to know the actual loan obtained by Rauf Aregbesola’s administration because Osun has been using over N2.4 billion to service debt since early quarter of 2014.”
Sulaiman added that the unsuspected people of the state just recently learnt about the monthly deduction of over N2.4billion for re-servicing the gargantuan debt since four (4) years ago and to our dismay, it is going to be paying for the period of twenty (20) years.
“It is our believed that the finances in the budget of a State like ours should be made open and transparent but the reverse was the case. Equally more worrying is the fact behind claims regarding the monthly wage bill which is still quite high considering the fact that the service has witnessed the mass departure of its workforce.
It alleged that Rauf Aregbesola’s government failed to give the accurate total loan incurred by the administration to the good people of the State, according to the group, the state government has been giving different figures to suit its whims and caprices, until recently when the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) came out with the N197billion debt profile of the State.” He said.
He added that “As it is today, the debt of the State was at the range of N300 billion to N350 billion locally, nationally and internationally which includes local loans which was not captured by NBS, Pension Contribution deductions, Cooperatives deductions, backlogs of workers’ salary and pension arrears, local contractors and other funds, adding that this debt was not sustainable for the state.”