*says planned building following due process
*‘You can’t escape justice for looting LG funds’
By Chuks Oyema-Aziken
The Oyo State Government has restated its commitment to probity and accountability in local government administration in the state.
The government stated this in reaction to what it said is recent gale of baseless accusations and lies from the camp of the sacked chairmen of the 68 Local Governments and Local Council Development against Governor Seyi Makinde.
In a press release signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Taiwo Adisa and made available to newsmen on Thursday, the Oyo State Government described the Chairmen as frustrated and frightened by the impending retribution for their looting of local government funds.
The statement noted that the sacked chairmen had been behaving like bulls in a china shop ever since they got wind of the oncoming retribution for their looting of the taxpayers’ funds.
The Oyo State government said the behavior of the sacked Chairmen were in response to the ongoing forensic probe of local government funds by the Oyo State House of Assembly, which is exposing the monumental heist carried out by the sacked APC council chairmen.
The statement added that no matter the amount of gibberish statements and insults issued by the sacked ALGON, justice would catch up with them.
The statement read in part: “The attention of the Media Office of the Governor of Oyo State, Engineer Seyi Makinde, has been drawn to some ludicrous and unfounded claims by some politicians who branded themselves as members of the Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON,) Oyo State Chapter.
“In the statement, these elements parading themselves as ALGON members claimed that the recent message sent by the Permanent Secretary, Oyo State Local Government Service Commission to the 33 local government chairmen in the state in respect of the planned construction of the State Secretariat of the Local Government Service Commission amounts to “stealing by tricks.”
“These claims sound shocking, especially because they are coming from those who have served as chairmen, albeit illegally, because if those who have served as chairmen of local governments do not appreciate the need for a befitting secretariat for the Local Government Service Commission, then one cannot pity the level of their ignorance and buffoonery.”
The statement further noted that it was the height of mischief and bad politics for any opposition figure to badmouth a laudable project, which the immediate past administration woefully lost sight of despite its unwarranted claim of having built a modern Oyo State.
It said: “We are appalled that the so-called ALGON members could not understand the need for the third tier of government in Oyo State’s to have office accommodation, after it had remained as tenants in the complex of the State’s Water Corporation for over 35 years.
“The emerging fact, however, goes to confirm the fact that the said ALGON members need education and information on this matter. The State’s Local Government Commission has responsibility for over 50,000 serving and retired workers, whose daily needs cannot be subsumed under the banner of directionless politicking. The Local Government Pension Board is another of the agency housed under the commission, whose task of keeping the retired workers of councils in good state cannot equally be overemphasised.
“It needs to be stated that Osun State, which was excised from the Old Oyo State had built its Local Government Service Commission Secretariat since the administration of Chief Bisi Akande, which was between 1999 and 2003.
“If the Secretariat of the Service Commission is needless and nebulous, the previous administrations in Oyo State, which allocated a prime land for the purpose of building a Secretariat would not have done so.
“Instead of apologising to the good people of Oyo State for the monumental failure the administration they served in recorded in the area of infrastructure in the state, the sacked council bosses are beating about the bush and making undue noise.
“They are seeking to politicise a very clear issue; every state of the federation has got offices for its Local Government Service Commission, which is by no means an illegal body, having been created by statutes of the State.
“Indeed, the said ALGON operates a secretariat, though it is merely an association. May we ask whose funds they have been using to run the offices they maintain as ALGON Secretariat? If the Federal and State Governments maintains befitting secretariats, why would the third tier of government not maintain a befitting secretariat for the coordination of councils’ activities in Ibadan, the State capital?
“For the avoidance of doubt, the said project was conceived to relieve the State Secretariat of the acute shortage of office accommodation that is being currently experienced. The Local Government Service Commission and its adjunct, the Local Government Pension Commission have unduly burdened the Water Corporation Complex and worsened the office accommodation challenges at the State Secretariat.
“It is in an attempt to resolve the office space problems that the new administration in Oyo State decided to decongest the offices and ensure that responsibilities are appropriately shared by the arms of government.
“The involvement of Governor Seyi Makinde was to ensure transparency and accountability in process, which is being driven by the Local Government Service Commission. The governor is by no means a signatory to local government accounts and his intervention is only aimed at providing the moral guiding light to a well-desired project.
“The Constitution of Nigeria 1999, as amended which guarantees the operation of joint State and Local Governments’ accounts equally envisages that those to operationalise the accounts would not do so from tree tops.”
The governor’s aide maintained that there was nothing unlawful or fraudulent in the memo the sacked chairmen preyed on, noting that Governor Makinde’s avowed commitment to probity and transparency are globally acclaimed and that the building of the planned secretariat is going through due process.
He said: “The attempt to whip up sentiments around the dictate of the Nigerian Intelligence Unit (NFIU) will equally hit the brick wall, because the Caretaker system in the councils are clearly covered by the Local Government Laws of Oyo State.
“Under the administration of Governor Makinde, due process is not just a code enshrined in the books, it is a creed and all processes and procedures of government pass through that test.
“We assure all that any fund that would be released for the purpose of any project by arms and tiers of government must pass the same route.
“However, the public is not unaware of the probe of the immediate past administration at the local government level of Oyo State by the State House of Assembly. The public is equally aware that the orchestrated noise by the sacked chairmen is merely directed at diverting attention from the monumental looting being uncovered by the State Legislature at the councils and for which, we are sure, the House would soon invite the anti-graft agencies shortly.”