Yetunde Oladejo, Osogbo
A Civil Society group based in Osun State, Civil Societies Coalition for the Emancipation of Osun State (CSCEOS), has cautioned President Muhammadu Buhari against entrusting funds meant for the school feeding programme of his government in the hand of Governor Rauf Aregbesola, alleging that the money may be misappropriated by him and his cohorts.
The group alleged that an alleged plan to siphon the funds of the school feeding programme which President Buhari is expected to launch in Osogbo on Thursday, September 1, 2016 had been exposed.
In a statement signed by the CSCEOS Chairman, Comrade Sulaiman Adeniyi on Tuesday and made available to newsmen in Osogbo, the group further alleged that the governor had connived with the Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo to convince President Buhari to release funds meant for the free food project to state governments across the state.
According to him, “This is where corruption has swept into the programme. This is where the project will become conduit pipes through which billions of naira will be going into private purses. This is where Buhari’s anti-corruption crusade will be messed up.
“Already, Aregbesola has falsified documents where he tremendously increased numbers of pupils in the state public schools. He has also forced cooks being used for his inherited O-meal programme to sign documents that the state government was releasing N270 worth of food per child each day instead of the N28 he was giving them.
“We can imagine how much will be going off the drain into private accounts. For instance, if a sum of N270 is being released for one million pupils in the state, this would be N270 million. Whereas, the cooks will get meagre amount from this money and the remaining is going to be embezzled.
“We want to advise Mr. President to allow the FG officials to be monitoring and executing the programme so as to avoid people of the state to be short-changed by Aregbesola and his cronies. Today, Osun is the most indebted state in Nigeria under the nose of Aregbesola. In our state, it is the more you look, the less we see with window dressing projects to deceive people”, the statement alleged.
The group also insisted that Aregbesola should not be entrusted with such programme funds at this material time where Nigeria is passing through economic crisis.
CSCEOS maintained that its call became imperative due to the experience of the people of the state in the hand of Mr. Aregbesola over the “mismanagement of the funds accrued to the State from Federation Account since November 2010 till date”, justifying its position that the school feeding programme funds of the FG would be diverted like that of N35billion bailout funds meant for the payment of workers’ salaries and leave bonus alongside pensions to retirees in the State.
The group also expressed worry on the state of affairs of the state nay Nigeria where situation are unbearable to the masses, calling on the workers and retirees alike in the state to use the One-Day visit of the Mr. President to the state as an opportunity to express their grievances on the non-payment of their seven to eight months backlogs of salaries and pensions due to them, despite the effort of the Buhari-led administration to bailout the state recently.
It equally urged the affected workers and retirees to be courageous enough to use their democratic means to make their demands known during the Presidential visit to the State, advising the people of the State to stop the idea of suffering and smiling culture during the visitation of their elected leaders as if all was well with them and which it was not well in the nation presently.
It added that “As a voice of the voiceless and down trodden masses of our people, we would not keep quiet in the face of mis-governance of Governor Aregbesola so as not to be guilty of complicity, likewise, we would not close our eyes by allowing our meager resources to be siphoned by Aregbesola and his allies under the guise of embarking on a cosmetics programme”