Francis Moses reports on the continued fight between the ruling APC and the opposition PDP in Osun public space
Despite being happy that the Governor of Osun State Rauf Aregbesola have paid some month’s salary to the civil servant in the state, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has advised the people of the State to brace up for austerity measures which, for the party is the only way out of the economic crisis pounding the state. But as usual the opposition PDP is unimpressed and asked the governor and his party to stop using the people of the state as cannon fodder for what it referred to as amateur politics.
Sounding the APC alarm at the weekend in Osogbo, the state capital, the Director of Publicity, Research and Strategy of the APC in Osun State, Mr. Kunle Oyatomi, said in a statement in which he congratulated Labour and the government for finally resolving the salary impasse solicited that the support of all and sundry to enable the government serve the needs of everyone in the state.
The APC attributed the economic crisis in the country to the alleged misrule of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-led Federal Government. His words “This will take a lot of sacrifice and belt tightening to fix. Every citizen must be prepared to experience one form of austerity or the other in the mean time, if we are to expeditiously overcome the damage done by the PDP to the nation’s e c o n o m y. Something has to give way for better things to happen”.
He further noted that it is not the government that will bear the brunt alone, but the people, which is why they should be prepared to share in making sacrifices, so that “we can build a future for our children.”
The ruling party blamed the PDP for the criticisms, which have trailed the inability of the state to pay its workers for many months, saying the opposition party orchestrated the attacks against the government to discredit it.
He said, “Of the number of states in the country where this same crisis persisted, it was only in Osun that a satanic twist was orchestrated by the PDP to magnify the sad event. This is because desperate politicians murderously seeking power will stop at nothing to exploit people’s misfortune for their selfish political ambition.”
In a retort, the opposition PDP said they would not stop criticising the alleged maladministration of Governor Aregbesola’s administration.
According to the Director of Media, Publicity and Strategy of the PDP in the State, Mr. Diran Odeyemi, the criticisms against Aregbesola was more severe than in other states because the governor was the only one involved in reckless spending with impunity.
He said the ruling party’s advice on austerity was a confirmation that Aregbesola was planning to retrench workers and to impose heavy taxes on the people.
He said “Rather than prove us wrong, the APC has just corroborated our position that it has lost focus and cannot bring smiles to the faces of the people but hardship. “It is sad that a government that promised workers good welfare packages during campaign would withhold their salaries for nine months, and when given bailout by the FG, would fix it in a bank and embark on series of delay tactics to delay payment.
“The APC in other South West states of the country do not purchase helicopter for the pleasure of their governor like we have in Osun, neither do they travel to Cuba forthrightly like Aregbesola does. If Osun APC expects us to keep quiet in the face of oppression, embezzlement, fraud, maladministration and other vices, they got it wrong. He said. The party further accused the state government of paying N20 billion to a construction company out of the N35billion bailout funds released to Osun by the Central Bank of Nigeria to pay workers’ salary arrears.
In a statement signed by Odeyem, the party accused Aregbesola of using the bailout to pay the construction company Slava Yediteppe which is handling Oba Adesoji Aderemi road project in the state.
PDP said Aregbesola ought to pay the salary arrears of the workers before paying the contractor. The party described Aregbesola’s decision as misplacement of priority, lamenting that civil servants in the state are wallowing in abject poverty due to unpaid salaries.
According to the statement, “We have it on good authority that the payment was effected recently and we have noticed that the contractor has returned to site with its men and equipment within 24 hours as requested by the governor.
“The N35billion bailout is lodged in two banks- WEMA and Zenith. While the funds in one of the banks remained fixed as earlier alleged, the part lodged in the other bank has been recalled to pay this company with very strong links to a presidency figure”.
“Much as we believe the road project is ideal, we wonder why an inflated road contract awarded at N1 billion per kilometre has suddenly become the priority of Governor Aregbesola at this particular period of nine months unpaid salary if not because of some undercurrent deals to siphon funds and short change the people of Osun state”.
“This perhaps is the reason why the governor said he would only pay half of March salary for workers at a meeting he held with them. “These hardships is too much for the people of Osun and we are therefore appealing to traditional rulers and religious bodies in the state to wade in before it escalates further because an hungry person is unarguably an angry man,” the PDP said.
Not known to take such matters lying low, APC’s Oyatomi said “This is nonsense. Our dear colleagues, if you believe in this egregious nonsense of the PDP, you may go ahead and publish.
But if you must be true to your profession, we urge you to investigate before you publish”.
Oyatomi added, in the last 4 years or so Governor Aregbesola has been in power, “the PDP has told so much lies that we are just tired of responding to their lies.
The banks the PDP mentioned are there for the public to corroborate facts or fallacies of the PDP. We have had enough of this irresponsibility.”