President Muhammadu Buhari may have asked the Senate to probe the Osun State Governor, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, and other governors over how they spent the bailout disbursed to them by the Federal Government.
Subsequently, the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has ordered the Senate Committee on State and Local Government Administration to proceed on a fact-finding mission to Osun State to investigate how the Aregbesola administration spent the N34.988,900 given to it by the Central Bank of Nigeria as a bailout to pay workers’ salaries.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on States and Local Government Administration, Senator Abdullahi Gumel, in a letter dated November 3rd and forwarded to Aregbesola informed the governor that the Senate committee would visit the state on December 7 for the investigation.
A copy of the letter which stated that the probe was part of the oversight functions of the Senate was made available to our correspondent in Osogbo on Monday.
Gumel said the senators would like to meet with the state’s Commissioner for Finance; the Accountant -General of the state; the Head of Service; the managements of First Bank, Wema Bank and Zenith Bank where the funds were domiciled as well as the state House of Assembly’s Committee Chairman on Finance; the Commissioner for Local Government Affairs and any other persons the governor deemed necessary could provide answers to the application of the loan.
The letter partly read, “As a result of concerns from different quarters, the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, had expressed his worry to the National Assembly on the application of bailouts granted to some states.
“On that premise, the Senate leadership led by His Excellency Dr. Bukola Saraki CON has directed the Senate Committee on States and Local Governments’ Administration to conduct oversight on the disbursement of salary bailouts.
“Your Excellency, it is based on this directive that the Committee will undertake a tour of all states that have benefited from bailout with the view to oversight records of transactions for the salary bailout grant. Consequently, a group of senators led by my humble self will visit your state on the 7th day of December, 2016.
“On arrival, the team will pay you a courtesy visit and then proceed to a meeting with some officials of the government.
“You may please advise these officials to prepare a report detailing all the grants as received by the state from the Federal Government and the application of such funds. They should provide the committee with all relevant information that will guide the committee reporting.”
Some pensioners have protested about the alleged non-payment of their pensions after the bailout was given to the state and workers have been receiving half salaries since July 2015.
Efforts to speak to the governor through his media aide, Mr. Semiu Okanlawon, were unsuccessful.
Okanlawon did not pick calls put across to his telephone and did not reply the text message and WhatsApp chat sent to him by our correspondent.
However, he had in April debunked the claim of the Peoples Democratic Party that his principal disbursed just N18.677.224.582.20 out of the almost N35bn and diverted the balance.
Okanlawon explained that pensions were not captured in the bailout but the state government included pensioners so that they could benefit from the bailout.
Okanlawon said, “There is no case of diversion of bailout as far as Osun is concerned. Has anyone asked how the state was able to accommodate pensioners’ backlog up till June last year?
“…Aregbesola cannot be found wanting because whether in fund or other funds he has never been found wanting in funds application.”