Political activist, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, tells LEKE BAIYEWU how Governor Rauf Aregbesola has allegedly mismanaged economic resources of his home state
Why did you write a petition against the Governor of Osun State – your home state, Rauf Aregbesola, to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission?
In June this year, Governor Rauf Aregbesola addressed the state House of Assembly and said that he had lost control of Osun finances; that the situation was beyond him. He said he had stopped paying salaries because banks had stopped giving him loans. I recalled when, in 2006, he wanted to contest for Osun governorship, I was with him and Prince Sijuwade when he was pushing the idea. And he was saying that if he became the Governor of Osun, that as Lagos State was consuming N2bn worth of food every day, he would ensure that through agriculture, Osun would be making N200m every day due to the food demand in Lagos. That the worth of food consumed in Lagos was N2bn; that he would cause agricultural revolution in Osun that would make the state to be making N200m every day from the food supplied to Lagos.
Also, when he was inaugurated, I heard him saying that ‘in my first four years as governor of this state, I will surpass (the late Chief Obafemi) Awolowo.’ Now, five years as governor, he owed workers salaries up to eight to nine months as of June. That was why I and other indigenes met in Akure to discuss what was going wrong with our state. We contacted our other colleagues to organise a summit on Osun. That was how the idea of the July 23 summit came. We sent letters to the All Progressives Congress in Osun to send delegates, as well the Peoples Democratic Party and other parties. It was an all inclusive summit, only for Governor Aregbesola, in conjunction with the Police, to seal up the venue of the summit. They even told the owner of the facility not to allow us to hold the event, even after we had paid. The following day, they moved four tanks to that place. They were saying that we wanted to come and fight and cause trouble. We are responsible citizens. It is Aregbesola who has been using thugs in the state to beat up people. The pensioners who were protesting; they beat them up and some of them died after the event. They have what they call “state boys” – thugs who are harassing and beating up our people.
When he did that, we were not there to fight; we are not hoodlums or hooligans. We left the (sealed up) venue for another hall in Ile Ife. We had our summit and that was where we saw all the financial crimes that were committed in our state. And the summit took a resolution that we should forward the petition to the EFCC to come and look into Osun’s books in the last five years. That was what we did yesterday (Monday) in conformity with the resolution of the summit held in Osun on July 23; that we have enough reasons to believe that he (Aregbesola) has committed so much economic crimes that we want the EFCC to come and investigate. With what we have seen in the state, we believe that even if the EFCC sends a team of investigators led by James Ibori, Aregbesola will find it difficult to explain what he has done with Osun money.
Can you defend the allegation that your group is being sponsored against APC and Aregbesola?
Maybe Aregbesola thinks that all Osun people are mechanics who are not learned; who did not go to school or who are parading forged certificates to think that the response to the issues raised is that we are being sponsored. Sponsored by who? Who will sponsor me? We know ourselves. When I met Aregbesola in 1999 when (Asiwaju Bola) Tinubu was campaigning, I know the state he was. Who is he now to say we are being sponsored? What have I done in Osun that I cannot afford or own? To write a petition to the EFCC, I have the power to do that. When I was already taking public stands, where was Aregbesola? Did we know him until he became a commissioner in Lagos? Before that time, had he ever been in the public light? It shows the intellectual poverty that is afflicting the Governor of Osun and his team to say those who claim that they have looted the state dry are being sponsored. Sponsored by who?
If they believe that we are being sponsored, we are being sponsored by the hungry people of Osun; the deprived people of Osun. Osun workers have worked and have not been paid for eight months. Look at their agony and cries. I have classmates who are begging for money; I have relatives from Osun who are begging for money. And if Aregbesola is indeed from my state, – because there have been insinuations that he is not from Osun, – with what he has done to the state, it is evident that he is not from the state. But if he is from Osun, then, he should bury his head in shame for what he has done with our state’s finances in the last five years.
What were the things your group found out about the state of affairs of Osun after your investigation?
You need to see a copy of our petition to the EFCC. From Aregbesola alone, on the June 3 this year when he was addressing the state Assembly, he gave account of monies that have accrued to Osun in five years. He said what Osun got from the Federation Account was N180bn in five years. Go to the office of the Accountant General of Osun, you will discover that what accrued to the state from the Federation Account, the Excess Crude Account and the Internally Generated Revenue totalled about N317bn. After we had our summit and we said that ‘this governor is fleecing our state; he cannot account for N200bn.’ His director of communications, Semiu Okanlawon, came out to say that the state’s IGR was N204bn, just few days after the governor said it was N108bn and we argued that it was N317bn. Is that how to run the affairs of a state?
Go to the state today, every project, for which Aregbesola has used to put us in debt burden that our grandchildren will continue to pay, is not on the ground. Go to the airport where he spent billions of naira, it is full of waste; only the fence that you will find there which was done by Alhaji Lai Mohammed’s company. He took a loan of N11.5bn from the Islamic Bank, which he said was interest free. When he was taking the loan, he said he was going to build 27 schools with the money – 23 secondary schools, two elementary schools and two middle schools. The 23 secondary schools he said he was going to build at N450m each; the two elementary schools at N150m each; the two middle schools at N150m each. He collected the money, telling us it was interest free, but we have obtained documents that show that by 2020 Osun is going to pay N25bn on the N11.5bn. And of those 27 schools, only two were built. We have asked the EFCC to look at this. He said he launched Opon Imo (tablet for public schools’ pupils), with N8.3bn spent on it, go to Osun today and show me one Opon Imo that is working. In fact, they call it Opon Eemo now.
Can you explain further?
He took bonds. When he had a summit yesterday, his accountant general admitted that they had taken N87bn bond. Let the EFCC come to Osun and let Aregbesola show them what he has done with N87bn. In spite of the fact that Osun workers have not been paid close to nine months, Aregebsola is still paid N502m every month as security vote. Aregbesola has acquired two helicopters, which he said he was using for “surveillance.” What security challenge do we have in Osun today than the unpaid people? These two helicopters he acquired; Ondo State that is close by does not have helicopter, Oyo does not have helicopter, Ogun does not have helicopter, Ekiti does not have helicopter. What is Aregbesola doing with two helicopters? And we have papers to show that even before acquiring the helicopters, Aregbesola was using Osun resources to charter flights from Ibadan to Lagos. He will drive to Ibadan and take a chartered flight from Ibadan to Lagos, a journey of about one hour by road.
All the roads he collected monies for are in a state of disrepair; nothing is done on them and they have collected billions of naira on them. From our investigations, the debt profile of Osun today is about N400bn. This is not about APC; I have said it several times. I was the secretary of the assessment team that monitored Osun under (the administration of) Bisi Akande in 2001. The secretariat that Akande built was constructed with less than N1bn – that massive secretariat. What has Aregbesola put in place in the last five years that is as massive as that secretariat? None! Yet, he has incurred debts of over N400bn.
We have amassed all our allegations and evidences before the EFCC and we are waiting for the commission to come to Osun. We will substantiate all our allegations against him. He has started his media noise that we are sponsored. When the EFCC comes to Osun and he is asked what he has done with Osun money, let him tell EFCC that those who have accused me are being sponsored.
If you claim the governor has committed so much crime, would he have won his election for second term in office if Osun people didn’t appreciate his administration?
It is either of two things; it is either you want to accuse the people of suffering from ‘second term syndrome’ or they have other ways of winning election than the votes of the people.