Allegation that I hijacked LG funds shocked me – Abiodun

* Ogun council chairs vindicate governor, beg for forgiveness

By Nudoiba Ojen

Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, has said that the unfounded allegation of hijacking local government funds leveled against him was shocking.

The governor reiterated that his administration worked tirelessly to ensure emergence of the council bosses and therefore could not engage in any act that could retard development at the grassroots.

He spoke at his Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta office on Tuesday night when 18 council chairmen in the state visited him to apologise on behalf of one of them (also in attendance) who made the allegation.

At the meeting, the Chairman of Ijebu-Ode Local Government, who also doubles as the chairman of Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON) in the state, Hon. Emilola Gazal, told the governor that the visit was to acknowledge the mistake that had been made and to beg for forgiveness.

Gazal, who exonerated Abiodun from the allegation, averred that the governor had at no time interfered in the distribution and sharing of local government funds from the federation account.

The ALGON boss, who urged Abiodun to “forgive and forget” on the matter, said, “The governor has been passionate about the development of the state. No previous administration can claim the same success recorded across the state in the last four years.

The council chairmen acknowledged that in May, N4.5bn was shared by the 20 local governments. In June, N4.4bn was shared, while July also saw the sharing of N4.4bn. In August, N5.2bn was shared.

They also confirmed that during the COVID-19 pandemic, the governor was augmenting their allocation to the tune of N1bn monthly.

The chairmen admitted that because of insufficient funds from the federation accounts, they have been unable to pay the mandatory Pay As You Earn to the state, and as a result, they are owning the state, several billion.

Governor Abiodun told the chairmen, “When I read in the news media that I Adedapo Abiodun, the privileged Executive Governor of this State for the second term, is being accused of diverting funds meant for a local government. I say to myself perhaps it must be another Adedapo Abiodun and not me.

“God knows that I am doing this job with every iota of sincerity of purpose. I continue to ensure that I am guided by all the promises I made in the course of my journey to the governor’s office.

“I continue to remind myself that I am holding this public office in trust as a trustee for and on behalf of all sons and daughters of this state and I will continue to be dogged, irrevocably committed to developing every part of this state equitably and fairly.

“I will continue to respect that besides the state government, there is also another tier and we are charged with the responsibility of building the future of this State.

“So, I began to wonder how anyone could possibly begin to imagine that I would divert funds meant for another tier of government when my party, the APC, had formed government 100 per cent in that tier particularly!

“It is not as if I am trying to punish some council chairmen who are not in my party. State government and local government are all one family.

“I know what I committed to ensuring that we are all successful when you were contesting either at the primary level or at the general elections.

“So how will I be able to explain to my conscience that having done all that, having vowed, having pledged, having been committed to the development of this State, as evidenced across the length and breadth, how would I justify stifling the local government?

“I know what myself and two other governors advanced before our president in the last two weeks about the need for the Federal Government to provide separate interventions just for the local government. So naturally, I have been taken aback.

“Our preoccupation should be to continue to join hands together to build the future of this great state. I restate my commitment to ensuring that your tier of government is given all the support that you need to make the best of the opportunity that your people gave you.

“As you will be entering the last few months of your administration, it will be a joy and delight to ensure that you all have legacies that define your tenure in office,” the governor assured.

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