The Government of Osun State has described the protest and actions of some few pensioners in Osogbo on Wednesday as an attempt by their sponsors to gag the truth.
The government said those behind the fabrications of lies over bailout loans and other financial matters concerning Osun had also conspired to prevent any avenue for the government to set the records straight.
The Director, Bureau of Communication and Strategy in the Office of the Governor, Mr. Semiu Okanlawon, in a statement, said the arranged protest against the non-payment of the pensioners’ entitlements was a cover up to disrupt the sitting of the State House of Assembly session and prevent the government from giving out the figures.
He said for accountability and transparency, the state House of Assembly had started probing how N34.5bn received from the Federal Government as bailout was spent.
The statement read in part, “The House of Assembly had summoned some government officials to appear before lawmakers on Wednesday 7th December 2016.
“Those summoned include: the Accountant-General, Permanent Secretaries Ministry of Finance, Office of Budget Planning, Director-General of Debt Management Office, officials of Wema Bank, Zenith Bank and First Bank, Osun State Chairmen of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC), Joint Negotiation Council (JNC) and the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employee (NULGE).
“Heads of Market Women, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs)”.
The Bureau queried why the protesters did not allow the House of Assembly go on with the proceedings that were expected to be aired live on television so that people could come out with questions that had agitated their minds if the few supposed pensioners were not out to gag the truth.
He said, “Those invited to the House of Assembly were expected to appear before the House with useful documents and necessary information concerning the bailout fund given to the state government.
“The situation where sponsored pensioners openly assaulted the Deputy Speaker and other government officials with charms and other weapons was not expected of senior citizens that pensioners are supposed to be.”
Okanlawon said the House of Assembly, which symbolises people’s representation, was about providing a platform to throw lights on how the bail out loan was disbursed to lay to rest all allegations of financial recklessness levied on government.
The statement read, “The totality of what Osun has collected this year could not pay salaries that we have paid but for extreme skills in financial management. Osun took N325m this month. And Osun must pay a modulated bill of N1.7bn. So if you add up what Osun got as revenue from January to November, it is short by close to 50 percent of what Osun is paying out.
“There must therefore be a trick that Aregbesola is using because every month we complain that what Osun get is small. And yet, much more than what Osun receives on monthly basis is paid as wages. This is not even considering capital projects which are everywhere in this state.”
The statement added that the Aregbesola administration had put in place the best mechanism to ensure transparency in allocation of resources.
It added, “This is the state that pioneered the setting up of a body in charge of funds resources allocation which had workers’ representatives from all the industrial unions in both NLC and TUC and professionals with government officials as members. That body is headed by a veteran, vibrant unionist, Alhaji Comrade Hassan Sunmonu.
“Without any doubt, nothing could be more transparent than this,” the statement said.
Recall The DEFENDER reported two days ago that Osun State House of Assembly summoned some Osun State government officials as it began the probe of how the Rauf Aregbesola-led government spent the N34.5 billion bailout loan it received from the Federal Government.