By Lekan Adeniran
“If thinking and reason crack under pressure of emotional convulsions or when commissioned facts are resulting from fibs and fake constructions, truth may be in great Peril,” says Erik Pevernagie
The above quotation applies to a certain Balogun Ibrahim. Ibrahim, in a poorly penned opinion piece full of grammatical blunders tagged; “Emperor Dapo Abiodun and Wale Adedayo” stamped on truth and fact, throwing caution to the wind. It is very easy to decipher that he wrote out of ignorance and was emotional in his poor treatise. He dwelt on a subject or an issue he knew practically nothing about.
Society is in real danger when half-baked, poorly educated, ill-informed commentators of his type become the source through which information gets to the people.
Balogun’s jaundiced perception of happenings in Ogun State is pitiable. He alluded to a diverted revenue allocation and the proclamation of an “Emperor”.
What he and some other commentators failed to grasp is that in Ogun State, there has never been zero allocation to the 20 local governments as claimed by the suspended Chairman of Ijebu East Local Government, Mr. Wale Adedayo. The Ogun State Government is not withholding or diverting allocation from the federation account meant for local governments. The two tiers of government run separate accounts. Money meant for local governments go through the Joint Account Allocation Committee (JAAC). Members of this committee are drawn from all stakeholders in local government administration, including representatives of traditional rulers, ALGON, NULGE, NUT, SUBEB, pensioners, etc with all the 20 local governments mandated to attend.
The governor does not have access to funds coming into that account. It is from this account that First Line Charges are made for the payment of council staff, primary school teachers, healthcare workers, and local government pensioners. And records have it that since 2019, allocations from the federation account to the local governments have been insufficient to meet the First Line Charges, which has necessitated the state government augmenting these allocations every month to the tune of more than N17 billion.
The state government has also been helping the local governments with funds to execute some projects. It is on record that Ijebu East Local Government got N1.547 billion from the state government in 2021. In 2022, the council got N1.955 billion, while, from August till date, the council has gotten N1.257 billion. This is outside the payment of staff salaries, teachers’ salaries, gratuities, and pensions through the JAAC.
Is it possible that Adedayo had a motive for writing a letter that is patently false and a negation of the true situation of things in the 20 local governments in Ogun State? Why write a letter now after two and a half years in the office? Was there any time that Mr Adedayo employed the internal conflict resolution mechanism in place in his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) or the government, which he is part of, if he had issues with revenue allocation to his local government? Was there any time he employed his closeness to Governor Dapo Abiodun by seeking an audience with him on the issue if he was so concerned about his people?
Granting autonomy to local governments as the third tier of government is an ongoing debate across the country. It is a debate that won’t go away soon. But Ogun State is among the first to pass a financial autonomy bill into law. This is meant to allow local governments to have the resources to fulfil their obligations to the people.
Tagging Prince Abiodun an ‘Emperor’, apparently, is the fallout of the visit by the local government chairmen on Tuesday, last week, pursuant to seeking reconciliation. The chairmen had earlier met with officials of the state government. They were convinced that no money was missing from their account after the books were opened to them. During the visit to the governor after the first meeting, the council chairmen did, in line with the Yoruba culture, prostrate for the governor. This was a spontaneous reaction as the Chairman of the state ALGON, Mr Babatunde Emilola Gazal, was speaking. It was never a request or compulsion. It was an acceptance of the fact that a mistake was made and an atonement must also be offered.
It is also in the infantile imagination of Balogun and his ilk that Prince Abiodun has reduced the other arms of government in the state to robots. This is another evidence of a man bereft of any critical thinking, assessment, and evaluation. How can you be an emperor in a democracy? No matter how imperfect, a democratic dispensation can never breed dictatorial tendency. Prince Abiodun, apart from being a team player, as evident in the retinue of aides around him, ensured that Ogun has become one of the most stable in the country politically since 2019. He has never had issues with the lawmakers in the state. He never interfered in who became the Speaker of the House of Assembly or other principal officers. As such, this has ensured that the legislative arm works in tandem with the executive. The judiciary is as vibrant as ever. Governor Abiodun has never made any attempt to gag this most important arm of government. He has never interfered in the running of local governments. Elections have been held as at when due since he assumed office. The one held in 2021 produced Adedayo as chairman.
In Ogun State, since 2019, there has not been a single case of politically motivated assassination or attempted assassination or political suppression, which was rampant in the years past.
Much noise has also been made about Governor Abiodun’s visit to the Office of the Department of State Service (DSS). This was a visit well planned ahead of whatever must have happened on the day. The governor went to the DSS with a large entourage, including the press, to inspect a building project under construction. Everything was done in the open. There was no closed-door meeting. After the inspection, the governor came out and addressed the press, after which the entourage drove out immediately.
Finally, whatever steps were taken by the Councillors of Ijebu East Local Government must have been backed by law. Thankfully, the chairman was not impeached. He was suspended based on allegations that were made public. Again, thankfully, the suspended chairman has promised to defend himself against the allegations.
Nigerians, in the mould of Balogun, should learn to dispense with emotion and imbibe logical thinking in public discussions.
* Adeniran is the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Dapo Abiodun.