March 2, 2024

By Aiyeloja Richard Olusola

Public accountability is a key ingredient for good governance in any society. It is like the oxygen that powers good governance as it stands as a safeguard against people entrusted with responsibilities. In fact, Sunday Adelaja, a Nigerian born Ukraine based clergyman warned that “Where there is no accountability, there will also be no responsibility.”

This brings me to a raging question in the mind of Osun people in recent times. And it is no other but the question on what happened to the N11.9 billion received by the Gboyega Oyetola administration for federal government road projects embarked upon by his predecessor, Rauf Aregbesola.

Sometime in September, 2021, the Commissioner for Finance under Oyetola, Mr. Bola Oyebamiji, had acknowledged receipt of the humongous fund from the central government as refund. According to him, the Oyetola administration received N11.9 billion from the federal government for road projects the state is constructing on its behalf and claimed that the money was ploughed back into four road projects inherited from the Aregbesola government.

For the purpose of emphasis, Oyebamiji noted that “Similarly, the total refund by the FG to the state as at today, in three tranches, stood at N11.9bn based on the project delivered by both contractors. It is imperative to state that the FG refund of the N11.9bn has been judiciously utilized and ploughed back into four (4) inherited road projects embarked upon by the previous administration contrary to the unsubstantiated claims by Mr. Ayedun that the refund is being used to pay full salaries to civil servants in the state.”

Now, the question which Oyebamiji cunningly dodged and which has remain unanswered till date, is what are the four road projects that gulped that whopping N11.9bn? Given the size of the amount, it shouldn’t be that hard to see what it was used for. And assuming they are too small to see, Oyetola and people who served in that administration have a duty to point them.

It is not in doubt that the Adeleke administration inherited a litany of abandoned road projects across the state, some of which he’s working to complete despite not receiving refund from the federal government on them. If Oyetola got N11.9 bn and actually utilized it on road projects, then it should be visible for all to see and acknowledge.

Within his first year in office, Governor Adeleke was able to complete the Osogbo-Ikirun dual carriage road which was one of the FG road embarked upon by Aregbesola. In a few weeks time, the Osogbo City Circular road (Ona Baba Ona) started by Aregbesola will be completed by Governor Adeleke. So, it does not make sense that Oyetola could not complete any of the inherited road from the previous administration despite having N11.9bn refund, which his successor, Governor did not have.

The N7bn refund received by the Adeleke administration was not for road done for the FG, yet, he made it publicly known without any prompting that it would be utilized for infrastructural projects. The refund was transferred to a special project account that will fund the multi-billion infrastructure plan unveiled recently, and which has already commenced.

This is why it is beginning to make sense that the Oyetola administration may have misappropriated the N11.9bn refund for road projects received, hence, struggling to point out exactly how it was spent. But it can prove doubters wrong by coming out with clear explanations on the supposed inherited road projects that benefited from the N11.9bn refund from FG with empirical analysis on the condition of the projects before intervention and after.

In a state struggling with poor road infrastructures, making it difficult to attract investments, it is unimaginable the level of impact that N11.9bn can make in putting things in place especially at a time when the value of naira was not as bad as now. What is required of Oyetola and those who served in the administration is to provide answers to the question of accountability that Osun people places right before it.

It is important to emphasize for them the admonition of a Canadian author and poet, A.J Dakhokme that “The only way we succeed as a group is not simply following directions, but in keeping each other accountable for our actions.” For Osun people, it is right for them to know how their money was spent, and I think Oyetola should not waste time in providing the right answer. That is accountability!

Aiyeloja Richard Olusola writes from Iragbiji, Osun State.

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