Rauf Aregbesola, governor of Osun state, has laughed off claims that his government has not paid workers’ salaries since July 2015 because it diverted the N34.99bn bailout fund it received from the federal government.
Speaking on Sunday through Semiu Okanlawon, his media aide, Aregbesola said investigations carried out by the independent corrupt practices and other related offences commission (ICPC) over the disbursement of the fund did not indict the government.
He said contrary to claims of non-payment of salaries for almost a year, the state had paid its workers up till January 2016.
“That ICPC investigated claims that workers in the state received their last salaries in July 2015 is enough for those monitoring developments in the state to conclude that the allegation could not have been true,” he said.
“This is because after the payment of seven months backlog of salaries last year, the government had proceeded to pay salaries on the agreed terms with workers.
“And this is why Osun has been able to pay its workers till January this year. There is no case of diversion of bailout loan as far as Osun is concerned. The state was able to accommodate pensioners in the bailout loans application when, in actual fact, pensioners were not part of the bailout scheme.
“But this was agreed upon by both government and workers. The bailout was to take care of salaries backlog up till June last year. The report that Osun paid salaries last in July 2015 is laughable.
“If anything, the Osun government had demonstrated enough transparency by ensuring that the bailout loan was disbursed with adequate supervision of a committee of labour and government.
“We have insisted that Gov. Aregbesola cannot be found wanting because whether in bailout funds or other funds of Osun he has been very creative in the management of the scarce resources to lift the state beyond the limit of the available resources.”
Osun is one of the several states struggling to pay the salaries of its workers.
March 2016 was only 18 months old when it was revealed that the state would be unable to pay that month’s salaries, having received only got N6.23m in federal allocation for the period.
Aregbesola said at the time that the sum would not even be enough to pay electricity bills for the state secretariat.
According to the accountant-general of the federation, the state actually received a gross statutory allocation of N1.677 billion for February, and N19.418 million and N726.1 million from the exchange rate gain and value added tax, resulting in a total gross amount of N2.423 billion for the month.
However, after the removal of the N70.989 million, N945.881 million and N1.400 billion in external debt, irrevocable standing payment order (ISPO), and other debts, the state was left with a net allocation of N6.23 million.