By Akeeb Alarape, Osogbo
Osun State Government has described the protest and actions of some pensioners in Osogbo on Wednesday as an attempt by their sponsors to gag the truth.
According to the state government, those behind the fabrications of lies over bailout loans and other financial matters concerning the state have also conspired to prevent any avenue for the government to set the records straight.
Director, Bureau of Communication and Strategy in the Office of the Governor, Mr. Semiu Okanlawon, in a statement on Thursday said the protest against the non-payment of their entitlement was a cover up to disrupt the sitting of the State House of Assembly and prevent the Government from giving out the figures.
He said for accountability and transparency, the state House of Assembly has started probing how N34.5bn received from the federal government as bailout was spent.
The statement read in part, “The House of Assembly had summoned some government officials to appear before lawmakers on Wednesday 7th December 2016.
“Those summoned include: the Accountant-General, Permanent Secretaries Ministry of Finance, Office of Budget Planning, Director-General of Debt Management Office, Officials of Wema Bank, Zenith Bank and First Bank, Osun State Chairmen of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC), Joint Negotiation Council (JNC) and the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employee (NULGE).
“Heads of Market Women Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs)”.
The Bureau queried why the protesters did not allow theAssembly to go on with the proceedings that was expected to be aired live on television so that people can come out with questions that had agitated their minds if the few supposed pensioners were not out to gag the truth.
“Those invited to the House of Assembly were expected to appear before the House with useful documents and necessary information concerning the bailout fund given to the state government.
“The situation where sponsored pensioners openly assaulted the Deputy Speaker and other government officials with charms and other weapons that were not expected of senior citizens that pensioners are supposed to be.”
He said the House of Assembly, which symbolises people’s representation, was about providing a platform to throw lights on how the bail out loan was disbursed to lay to rest all allegations of financial recklessness levied on government.
“The totality of what Osun has collected this year could not pay salaries that we have paid but for extreme skills in financial management. Osun took N325m this month. And Osun must pay a modulated bill of N1.7bn. So if you add up what Osun got as revenue from January to November, it is short by close to 50 percent of what Osun is paying out.
“There must therefore be a trick that Aregbesola is using because every month we complain that what Osun get is small. And yet, much more than what Osun receives on monthly basis is paid as wages. This is not even considering capital projects which are everywhere in this state.”