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Group Challenges Aregbesola To Declare Bailout Sum

As Osun State Civil servants return to work, concerned groups and individual want the state Governor, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola to be prudent in the management of the state resources, reports Peterclaver Egbochue

A group under the aegis of Civil Societies’ Coalition for Emancipation of Osun State (CSCEO), has said it has no confidence in Governor Rauf Aregbesola-led administration to manage the state’s scarce resources. It contended that the recent bailout by the Federal Government to the state should be publicly declared to enable the people of the state monitor the government. The group hinged its worry on the fact that the state government could squander the funds except there are proper checks by the people. The group therefore demanded that governor Aregbesola, make the exact amount of the bailout funds received by the state public immediately.

In a communiqué released by its Directorate of Media and Strategy after its meeting in Osogbo on Monday after a review of the activities that took place during the “Osun Emancipation” rally in Osogbo, the state capital, the group noted that given what has become of the state, every activity of the government must be monitored. According to the communiqué signed by its Chairman, Comrade Adeniyi Sulaiman, the group called on the state indigenes to be vigilant in monitoring the governor by ensuring that he does not divert the money released for payment of salaries and pensions to other personal uses.

“The coalition is worried that the said bailout might be squandered the same manner he squandered the ecological funds, excess crude revenue, SURE-P, UBE funds, local governments allocation and over N600 billion loan he collected from various sources with nothing tangible to show for it except uncompleted and dilapidated aerodrome, roads and school buildings and a collapsed economy resulting in extreme poverty, hunger, death and insecurity of lives and properties,” he said.

While thanking the state indigenes for their tremendous support during the anti- Aregbesola’s rally, the group urged them to, “remain resolute in speaking and acting against every wicked policy and acts of the suppressive and despotic rule of the governor until he delivers on his mandate to the people which includes banishment of hunger and poverty, guaranteeing the people a decent living standard and promoting their health and wellbeing”.

Speaking on the rally, the group explained that the peaceful assembly started at the Aiyetoro   area of the town until thugs said to be “State Boys” suddenly appeared and started firing and brandishing several weapons ranging from machetes, cutlasses and axes to cudgels, sticks and horsewhips with which they inflicted varying degrees of bodily injuries on innocent citizens. “But disappointedly, the police stood aloof watching while the state boys carried on their nefarious activities intimidating people and denying them of their constitutional right to lawful gathering,” the group noted It noted that because nothing was done to curb the attack on the protesters on Tuesday, 7th July another attack was staged by the state boys against innocent citizens at a newspapers stand at Finger Licking area opposite the Old governor’s office on Thursday, 9th July, 2015 destroying the newspapers stand, vandalising the papers and inflicting injuries on innocent citizens accusing them of booing the governor and making negative comments about him while he was passing bye. “The coalition is disturbed by the role played by the police as well as the apparent freedom enjoyed by the state boys who wreak havoc on innocent citizens with impunity.

If this is not curbed it might lead to gross insecurity and breakdown of law and order in the state”. The group said it has resolved that a petition be written to the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) to investigate the role of the officers and men of the Osun State command of the Nigeria Police Force in both attacks and call them to order. Meanwhile, Osun workers have called off their six weeks industrial action after the signing of Memorandum of Understanding in Osogbo by representatives of workers and government.

Speaking on behalf of other body of workers’ representatives, Chairman Osun NLC, Comrade Jacob Adekomi, said that it has become necessary to end the industrial actions since the MOU has been signed. He explained further that among other factors, the strike was called off upon “due cognisance of financial situation of government,” assuring workers that none of them would be penalised for perceived roles while the industrial action lasted, just as he directed them to resume at their duty posts on Wednesday. Comrade Adekomi and the Chairman, Joint Negotiating Council (JNC), Comrade Adebayo Adejumo also hinted that physical verification of workers in the state would be carried out between now and when the intervention fund would be ready for the payment of remaining outstanding salaries.

According to them, the physical verification exercise would be conducted by representatives of government and labour, adding that the exercise was not meant to cut size of workers in the state. “It would allow us to know the actual number of workers in the state and the actual wage bill of government”, said Adekomi. Clearing the air on series of recent street protests at the backdrop of the salary issue, the labour leaders said no worker in the ever participated in any protest and other public disturbances. According to the labour leaders, while the industrial actions lasted, workers and government “have been on the same page on finding solutions to the wages challenge”.

Many argue that the worker’s decision to call off the strike may not be unconnected with the recent intervention of traditional rulers in the state who appealed to them to call off their industrial action in the interest of peace, progress and development of the state. In a release signed by 15 prominent Obas from the state, the royal fathers said the workers had genuine ground to go on strike but at the same time, must protect the interest of the state. Speaking on behalf of the monarchs, the Akinrun of Ikirun, Oba AbdulRauf Olawale Adedeji, said the traditional rulers expressed sympathy for workers, government and the people of the state because all parties were affected one way or the other.

The monarchs further stated that it is a convention that both government and workers have joint responsibilities to serve the people of the state. They said based on the overall and collective interest of both the state and the people, it was pertinent for the workers to let off their guards and end the industrial action. “We sympathise with the workers as well as the government. We also sympathise with the people of Osun State for they are also affected in one way or the other by the financial crisis .

We want to commend the labour unions, particularly its leadership for comporting themselves. We salute their endurance. We want to appeal to them to bear with government. We can assure them that from what we have seen, things would soon come out well,” the monarchs said. With this agreement, political watchers say normalcy may soon return to the state which has experienced six weeks industrial action.

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