The political space in Osun is getting hotter as the days go by and 2022 is fast approach. There are alignments and realignment within all parties and caucuses.
Perhaps the most interesting of the events unfolding is the development within the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) which has now broken in two camps.
One would wonder the reason the Osun Progressives, the camp loyal to former Governor Rauf Aregbesola has been vociferous recently in finding faults in the achievements of Governor Gboyega Oyetola seeing that they of the same party.
Recently, during the group’s meeting held at Oranmiyan House, Former Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Barr Kolapo Alimi threw up another debate in a video that has now gone viral.
Alimi’s claim was on salaries and it followed that of Sikiru Ayedun, another former Commissioner under Ogbeni Aregbesola, who had earlier claimed that “Osun Government under Gboyega Oyetola has received a sum of N48bn refunds for roads constructed by Aregbesola.” This has, however, been established to be false as even the contract sum for the two roads is far lesser than the amount he brandished in public.
On his apart, Alimi in an attempt to ridicule the prompt payment of salaries by the Oyetola-led government and to cunningly divert the credit to Aregbesola, whose tenure was characterized by the modulated salaries, gave some half-truth analysis that could only be understood by him and his fellows.
Alimi while addressing TOP members pegged Osun’s staff salaries at a little above N2bn naira despite the N30,000 minimum wage. He said, “in 1999 when Baba Akande (former Governor Bisi Akande) was the Governor, Osun was paying N300m as salaries. When Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola came on board in 2003, the salary scale jumped up to about N1.9bn. After Ogbeni Aregbesola came on board in 2011, a new minimum wage was approved and the salary scale jumped to N3.5bn. Then the allocation also jumped to about N3.9bn.”
“If anyone is to be credited for the prompt payment of salaries by the present administration, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola deserves it. Because he was the person that put in place measures to ensure the government can pay.”
Alimi said the measure put in place by Aregbesola was placement of embargo on recruitment of new staff and maybe, the embargo placed on promotion of staff since 2011 too. Another was the centralization of payment of staff salaries from government’s account.
Osun State under Former Governor Rauf Aregbesola became the talk of the country in 2015 shortly after Aregbesola was sworn in for his second term. The crisis was so enormous that workers in Osun State were targets of donations from several organizations including the Redeemed Christians Church of God.
The main reason, which was left undisclosed by Alimi was the huge debt accumulated by the State between 2012 and 2014. Osun became financially insolvent in 2015 when deductions for loan service started taking well over 85% of the total allocation. For instance, between January and March 2017, Osun got N1.19bn from the FAAC, while N7.22bn was used to service debt. An amount that was higher than deductions from all other States except Lagos’ N8.51bn.
Labour Union Speaks
According to the Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress in the State, Comrade Jacob Adekomi, the State Government started payment of modulated salaries in July 2015 and the regime ran to July 2018. This shows that the regime of “half salaries” ran for three years. Contrary to what Alimi said, Adekomi told our reporter that the wage bill of Osun after implementation of N30,000 minimum wage, stands at N3.2bn.
“The payment of modulated salaries started in 2015 around July and it ran to July 2018. Few weeks to the elections. On the wage bill of the State, after the implementation of the new minimum wage, the amount stands at N3.2b,” Adekomi said.
Alimi said the embargo on recruitment started in the year 2012 and it went ahead till they left and even till now. This shows that the crisis is supposed to be reducing as according to him, the result was instantaneous.
The question is why the crisis keeps getting worse from 2012 to 2017? At least, no recruitment was made? Why did the modulated salaries suddenly change a month to 2018 governorship elections? What has the payment been consistent since then but Aregbesola couldn’t solve it for three years?
More so, statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics and BugIT have shown that the real causes of Osun salaries crisis between 2015 and 2018 was due to the deductions. The following graphical representation attests to that.
With the available fact online and offline, it shows that Kolapo Alimi’s claim was only politically motivated and an attempt to find fault where none exist. Aregbesola led administration’s major problem was accumulation of too much debt that led to high deductions from the State allocation.