Details have emerged of alleged mismanagement of local government funds in Ogun State after a local government chairman on Sunday accused Governor Dapo Abiodun of withholding statutory allocations from the federation accounts to local governments in the state.
The Chairman of Ijebu East Local Government, Wale Adedayo, said the governor had perpetrated the illegal act since he took office in May 2019.
Mr Adedayo made the accusation in a letter he addressed to a former governor of the state and a leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Olusegun Osoba; and made public on Sunday. Mr Adedayo is a member of the APC like Mr Abiodun.
The current set of council chairpersons in the state was elected into office in June 2021.
Mr Adedayo said the illegal seizure of their funds had crippled local governments in the state and brought their officials to ridicule before citizens at the council areas for non-performance.
He stated: “This letter should have been written about two years ago. But I was wary of what many naive people would say about me. Besides, at your age and given the level of your selfless contributions to the development of our state, and Nigeria in general, we expect you to be taking a well-deserved rest at this time. But “agba kii wa ni oja, ki ori omo titun wo” (we expect the elderly to intervene in correcting wrongs that everyone appears to have overlooked).
“Your urgent intervention is sorely needed to convince the Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, that the statutory Federal Allocation to Local Governments in Ogun State should be allowed to reach each of them as envisaged by the 1999 Constitution. Since we (Ogun State Local Government Chairmen) got on board in 2021, it has been ZERO Federal Allocation to each local government. The 10% of the state’s Internally Generated Revenue, which the Constitution also stipulated should go to the local governments has not been given since Abiodun got into office.
“Now, the negative consequences of Zero Federal Allocations to Local Government Councils in Ogun State should be clear for all to see. We should not not have lost the last elections in all the places we did during the Governorship and House of Assembly polls IF our local governments were being funded as provided for in the 1999 Constitution. I am not proud to say that we (Local Government Chairmen) have done very little or NOTHING since we were sworn in because the funds to work are being withheld by Mr. Governor.
“Former President Muhammadu Buhari assisted the states and Local Governments with what we call palliatives today. They called it, SURE-P. The first sent to the 20 local governments in Ogun State was N2.5 billion. The second one was N2.6 billion. The third was N2.8 billion, while the fourth shortly before Buhari left office was N2.9 billion. Not a dime of these funds was released to ANY local government in Ogun State. The Ogun State Executive Committee of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) had a meeting with the Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Dapo Okubadejo, early this year. The Commissioner claimed that the 20 local governments were owing the Ogun State Government N17 billion, which they continue to deduct. But I know for a fact that my Ijebu East Local Government is NOT owing Abeokuta one Naira!
“We’ve also heard about Ecological funds and others. These have developed wings too without trace. It is certain that the current one being packaged by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu may likely follow the same course. And, we are the ones the people will abuse. I am the butt of jokes in my local government right now, with many saying one is incompetent.
“Truly, denying local governments their due Federal Allocations in Ogun State began during the Administration of former Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun. And, as it is happening today, it was based on a spurious claim of helping some local governments, who may not be able to fulfill their obligations to the people because of financial challenges. Thus, all the funds are regularly collected into a central purse from where salaries and other dues are paid. Whatever that is left is often claimed by the State Government as debts being paid by the local governments.
“Revenue sources, which the local governments should benefit from have mostly been taken over by the State Government. Motor Parks and attendant dues which should go to each local government are being centrally managed by the State Government. Primary school administration and control have been taken over too. There are many others. But, what I crave is for you to assist in helping our people.
“In Ijebu East Local Government Area…our people need roads, especially in the interior. They need water. The Health Centres are nothing to write home about. The primary schools are something else. It is a crying shame that, in 2023 some of our people still depend on water from the stream to drink! Great Awo provided pipe borne water almost 60 years ago!”
The governor has denied the allegations in a statement issued to PREMIUM TIMES.
Other sources speak
However, Mr Adedayo’s allegation has been corroborated by other sources in the state, including many local government chairpersons and ruling party members who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution from the governor.
One of the local government chairpersons said the mismanagement of council funds by the governor had been of great concern to political and other leaders in the state, some of whom the source said had engaged Mr Abiodun privately on it
The source recalled how the Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona, once publicly expressed his concern to the governor.
“The governor had visited Oba Adetona in company with some of his officials in June 2022 at Ijebu Ode. Abiodun was shocked to hear a subtle query from the Oba. Speaking in Ijebu dialect, the Oba told Abiodun, ‘Gomina, kii de se kee mu Federal Allocation owon local government run won (Mr Governor, why are you not giving the Federal Allocation of local governments in Ogun State to them)? It was a hushed silence that enveloped the room with the governor stylishly changing the subject matter,” the council leader recalled.
According to the official, “the bailouts came in three tranches of N2.5 billion, N2.7 billion and N2.9 billion. Out of the amount as of May, N5.2 billion had disappeared without any local government benefitting from it. The balance of N2.9 billion is hanging in the balance in Abeokuta as it is yet to be disbursed.”
Several council bosses who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES confirmed that the governor does not spare the internally generated revenue of the councils.
“Since the inception of the Abiodun administration (in May 2019), local governments cannot collect rates or levies from commercial motorcycles, cars and others. Such rates, which are collected daily, go to the state government. Meanwhile, the tickets bear the local government’s name. Not a dime is remitted to the local governments,” one of the officials said.
“It is the same with tenement rates for premises, especially commercial entities. No local government in Ogun State can collect tenement rates.
“Of course, the worst is the monthly Federal Allocation. Yes, there is a monthly Joint Account Allocation Committee (JAAC) meeting, which should be presided over by the Commissioner for Finance. The Commissioner for Finance has never attended any. The meeting is usually attended by the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs along with the Ogun State Accountant General.
“Not one naira gets to any of the 20 local governments since Dapo Abiodun assumed office as governor. The meeting is just for information about what comes in from Abuja.
“The funds for all the local governments are centralised and managed by the governor. An account was opened at Access Bank PLC, Abeokuta branch for each of the 20 local governments by Mr Governor. It is from this account that salaries, allowances and security votes of chairmen are paid.
“Meanwhile, beyond these payments, no local government can access funds from the account as they are not signatories. Each Chairman and Director of Finance of each local government will only get credit or debit alerts. An account could have like N300 million by morning, and by evening a debit alert of N295 million could be seen without any emanating from the local government. The accounts are being managed directly by Mr. Governor.
“Each time the Federal Government bails out states and LGs, the whole funds end up at the state level.
“So many things cannot be done by the local governments. Things are bad. Sadly, apart from the Awujale of Ijebuland, not a single APC leader in Ogun State has kicked against this,” one of the sources said.
Credit: Jaiyeola Ajasa
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