Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, yesterday said he inherited a virtually empty treasury from the immediate past administration of Senator Ibikunle Amosun.
On his part, Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State yesterday accused his predecessor, Abdul-aziz Yari, of leaving behind over N251 billion liabilities for his government.
Abiodun, who disclosed this at a stakeholders’ meeting of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) held in Abeokuta, said the parlous financial situation of the state forced him to borrow funds from commercial banks to pay workers’ salaries on assumption of office.
Notable among those in attendance at the meeting are the state APC Caretaker Chairman, Chief Yemi Sanusi; Senator Tolu Odebiyi, Senator Lanre Tejuoso, Senator Adegbenga Kaka, Senator Akin Odunsi, Prince Segun Adesegun, Alhaja Salmot Badru, Hon. Suraj Adekunbi, Hon. Titi Oseni-Gomez, Chief Iyabo Apampa, Dr. Femi Majekodunmi, and Hon. Adekunle Adesina, as well as former and serving political office holders.
Addressing the gathering at the MTR Hall, Abeokuta, the governor revealed how he got credit facility to pay the state wage bill amounting to over N7 billion for the month of May.
He, however, said his administration was not interested in dwelling on how his predecessor run the state, saying his preoccupation now was to provide focused and qualitative governance while creating the enabling environment for public and private sectors to thrive.
Abiodun said: “I cannot begin to describe in the open to you the Ogun State that we inherited. I cannot begin to describe it to you. And I will not because I have made up my mind that publicly and privately, I will not discuss anything about that past administration.
“We have, by far, too many things to do than to begin to be bogged down by what someone did or what he did not do or what he left behind. We have resolved to draw the line and to move forward from there. We need to be focused.”
The governor explained that since money was not left in the state coffers by his predecessor, he had to approach about five banks for credit facility and all obliged him to pay salaries two days after his inauguration.
“To the glory of God, we paid salaries that day. Civil servants began to get their alert that evening. And I began to feel a sense of fulfillment. And this was my first task in office, and I managed to accomplish it,” he added.
Abiodun assured that his administration would ensure that pension contributions are remitted to the appropriate Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs) contrary to what obtained in the past.
On security challenges, the governor said the state Commissioner of Police would soon unveil the amnesty programme of his administration to enable criminals to renounce crime and lay down their arms.
“I have said it openly that we will not tolerate any form of banditry, cultism and hooliganism. We will be giving the criminals amnesty. Very soon, the CP will be announcing for everyone to come and lay down their arms. Following that period, if we catch anybody in this state, we are going to make an example of him,” he said.
Meanwhile, the governor has directed party leaders in the state to submit to him 20 names from each local government for consideration for political appointments.
He also asked the party chieftains to prioritize roads, schools and primary health centres within their local governments that require attention and forward same to him for rehabilitation.
Abiodun restated his commitment to running an inclusive and participatory administration by appointing members of other political parties that worked for APC’s victory into his government.
Meanwhile, the Zamfara governor, which expressed concern over the huge debt, said he will not hesitate to invite Yari in order to unravel the mystery behind the liabilities.
Briefing newsmen in Gusau, the state capital, former Deputy Governor and the Chairman, 2019 Transition Committee of the present administration, Malam Ibrahim Mohammed Wakkala, said his committee has already submitted its reports to the state government.
According to him, the committee has received and reviewed the submissions from ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) through various sub-committees consisting of seasoned administrators and technocrats on the reports of the immediate past administration.
Breaking down the details of the liabilities, Wakkala said the debt accrued from ongoing projects, including economic, environment, general and social sectors that left a total of N151 billion liabilities.
The liabilities under the Ministry of Finance, he said, consisted of outstanding loans, contract retention, bailouts, and loans from banks amounting to over N65 billion.
From the Ministry for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, the former deputy governor said the liabilities were over N35 billion, while unremitted National Housing Fund and pension contributions deducted from salaries of 2016 to 2019 have increased to over N1.4 billion.
Wakkala further explained that the liabilities in the Ministry of Education were over N2.8 billion, including indebtedness to examination bodies like NECO, WAEC, NABTEB and NBAIS.
He said the liabilities from education also included those from private tertiary institutions like Crescent University Abeokuta, Al-Hikma University Ilorin and Key Science Academy Abuja.
He also said his committee discovered that out of the N2 billion approved by the previous administration for the payment of backlog of gratuity owed retired workers in the state, only retired Permanent Secretaries were paid the sum of N400 million while N1.6 billion was unaccounted for.
The former deputy governor added that in the course of carrying out the responsibilities, the transition committee would leave no stone unturned in salvaging the state.
Under the duties of the committee, Wakkala said “officials of various MDAs will also be called upon when the need arises to give detailed information on what actually transpired leading to such liabilities.”
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