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Ogun SSG’s alleged resignation: Smoke behind the fire

By Gbenga Akinfenwa
28 May 2017   |   4:02 am
When news of resignation of the Secretary to Ogun State Government (SSG), Barrister Taiwo Adeoluwa, filtered across the state penultimate weekend...

Taiwo Adeoluwa

When news of resignation of the Secretary to Ogun State Government (SSG), Barrister Taiwo Adeoluwa, filtered across the state penultimate weekend, not many were surprised by the development, as it confirmed earlier reports of dwindling numbers of Governor Ibikunle Amosun’s disciples and his influence.

In the last few months, some of Amosun’s die-hard supporters have shifted base to the camp of Senator Solomon Adeola (Yayi), currently representing Lagos West senatorial district in the upper chamber, and an indigene of Yewa zone, being promoted by another faction of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to succeed Amosun in 2019.

Amosun was quoted at a forum, where he threatened to displace any of his aides found working with Yayi, though he denied it, but the sack of his Special Assistant on Social Media, Damilola Ogunpola, over allegations of audio leaks to opponents, seemed to be a pointer.

A chunk of the immediate past elected council officials have reportedly left for Yayi’s camp en mass. One of them told The Guardian recently that they are set for a showdown with the governor over his deliberate attempt to withhold their entitlements since they left office. The governor is also reported to have parted ways with a number of the serving legislators due to what they alleged to be his overbearing attitude.

So, when news of Adeoluwa’s resignation broke in the social media, the only thing that shocked was the closeness of the SSG to the governor, a man many see as Amosun’s ‘Man Friday’, who had featured more in the administration’s activities than even deputy governors since the governor’s first term in 2011.

According to a report, the SSG was said to have cited financial impropriety, as the main reason for his resignation. It was learnt that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had visited the SSG’s office twice and the ministry of works and infrastructure once, with regards to purchase of Armored Vehicles, events holding funds and road construction in the last four years.

Adeoluwa was said to have offered dissenting views recently, at the weekly State Executive Meeting, regarding the construction of the Gateway Annex building and questioning the amount it was awarded and why it should be concessioned after spending huge sums, advising the governor to channel the money into various abandoned projects.

“It was also revealed that the SSG was very bothered about the high level of profligacy and confided in close friends that he’s afraid of going to jail after this administration. This forced the SSG to travel out of the country and directed his assistant to forward his resignation letter to the office of the governor…” the report read in part.

The sudden denial of the purported resignation by Amosun’s Senior Special Assistant (Media), Adejuwon Soyinka few hours after, when the man in the eye of the storm had not issued any statement to confirm or deny the allegation, strengthened insinuation of a cover up.

It took the SSG several days to respond to rumour of his resignation. After the Executive Council Meeting two weeks ago, he disclosed to Journalists that; “there is no iota of truth in the rumour, as it was manufactured by a suspected blogger to compromise the harmonious relationship between me and the governor. I’m back at my desk as the scribe to the state government and as you can see, we just finished our exco meeting, all those things mentioned in the social media were false.”

According to sources, the SSG actually resigned. But for the frantic efforts of the Governor and other bigwigs of the party who prevailed on him, his seat would have been vacant for now or replacement shopped for. One of the State House of Assembly members on the platform of the APC confirmed to The Guardian that the SSG actually resigned because there has been animosity between him and the Governor in recent time. “The issue was quickly managed, if not it would have gone out of hand.”

Another chieftain of the party, who was part of the immediate past council caretaker committee members in Ogun Central Senatorial District, also confirmed this. He drew the attention of The Guardian to the fact that since the issue broke, the SSG has not been sighted at any public event.

The Guardian learnt from a reliable source that the SSG’s concern with the state finances might not be unconnected with the recent alarm raised by the state chapter of Labour Party (LP) over what the party termed monumental debt profile of the state.

The party called on members of the state House of Assembly to commence an impeachment process against the governor, to save the state from clutches of perpetual poverty, adding that with the state’s debt profile hovering around N220b, it is evident that Ogun should be classified as a failed state.

In a statement made available to The Guardian, signed by the state Chairman, Comrade Arabambi Abayomi and his Secretary, Comrade Oginni Olaposi, the party noted that some of the projects of the administration need urgent perusal. They include construction of eight Modern Markets at Itoku, Omida and Sapon at a combined cost of N4.2b; construction of another N600m modern market, which recently collapsed, killing two people; road construction works across the state at a combine cost of over N165b with over N105b paid; N70b Sango-Ojodu road; N37b Lusada-Agbara road; and N64b Abeokuta-Sagamu interchange 10-lane road, among other projects.

The Labour Party claimed that in January, the governor requested the approval of N65.75b (with 35 years repayment plan), of which till date government has not given any breakdown of how the facility was spent.

“On Monday, March 27, 2017, the governor requested the approval of the House of Assembly for further borrowing of N64b, despite the receipt and spending of the two previous N23b bailout funds- the first N12b Paris Club refund and the present $158m, just received as part of the refund from the Paris Club.

“The governor is owing civil servants over 15 months deductions, pensions, leave bonus and various allowances totaling N10b. The worst of it is the outright stealing and diversion of October 2016 salary of workers, totaling N4.3b, out of crass indiscipline, fraudulent and total disrespect to the constitution of the country,” the statement read.

Just last month, the party petitioned the two chambers of the National Assembly, cautioning them to stop the planned issuance of N222, 997,000,000 to the state, as refund for construction and rehabilitation of federal roads within the state.

Ogun and 15 others-Zamfara, Anambra, Oyo, Enugu, Cross River, Ebonyi, Plateau, Sokoto, Kwara, Ekiti, Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Gombe and Bauchi States are said to be owed the sum of N580.5b by the Federal Government for various rehabilitation works carried out on some federal roads in their territories, through revelations made by the joint House committees on works and finance, chaired by Hon. Toby Okechukwu and Hon Babangida Ibrahim Mahuta.

Ogun is said to top the list with the sum of N222, 977b, while Akwa Ibom State followed with N75.9b.

But Labour Party said: “We state without any fear of contradiction that the OGTV/Ibadan road and Papalanto/Federal Polytechnic road, were never constructed or rehabilitated, while the rest were awarded in 2012, but were abandoned by the governor’s ghost contractors since then.

“We therefore urge your good office to investigate these claims of refund by Amosun and also send your committee for on the spot assessment with members of the civil rights groups, professional bodies and opposition political parties in Ogun State, before such fraudulent and criminal request can be verified for payment,” the petition read.

Responding to the petition, the governor’s spokesman, Soyinka told The Guardian that the Federal Government went through a painstaking process to verify claims of state governments across the country with regard to how much they spent on federal roads within their jurisdiction.

“In the case of Ogun State, four different groups visited to verify our claims. One was led by the Minister for Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, another was led by Minister for Works, Housing and Power, Babatunde Fashola, while the Senate and House of Representatives Committees also visited to independently verify our claims.

“So, the money the Federal Government has agreed to pay Ogun State is a figure they independently arrived at after going round to verify the projects we executed. Having said that, it is amazing to see how politicians who claim to have the interest of the good people of Ogun State at heart will justify this futile effort to prevent the state government from rightfully claiming and retrieving monies spent on federal roads,” he said.

The Publicity Secretary of the party in the state, Sola Lawal, who spoke with The Guardian on phone, said the SSG did not resign as rumoured. He said any news on the social media should not be taken serious, adding that the issue doesn’t worth writing on.