The Osun state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has urged Rauf Aregbesola, governor of the state, to sell the state-owned helicopter in order to raise money to pay workers salaries.
Civil servants in the state have not received salaries in the last seven months, forcing the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) to threaten indefinite strike action in May.
While the governor has been blaming the situation on declining federal allocation as a result of crash in oil price, PDP hinged it on Aregbesola’s reckless spending, accusing him of funding the plot to oust Ayo Fayose, his Ekiti state counterpart.
The party further alleged that Aregbesola had converted the helicopter which was procured for surveillance to his private need and that of his family.
“What this administration told us was that the helicopter was to be used for surveillance, but we have since discovered that the machine is only serving the traveling needs of Mr. Aregbesola and his family. This remains one draining pipe that must be blocked,” read a statement issued by Diran Odeyemi, PDP’s director of media and publicity in the state.
“The PDP is urging the government to sell the helicopter and he should stop frivolous trips to Cuba.
“The governor and his aides should also forthwith stop traveling in chartered aircraft around the world. If President Muhammadu Buhari could be traveling on British Airways, even when aircrafts in presidential fleet are available, there is need for Governor Aregbesola to borrow a leaf.
“Osun State found itself in the present state of insolvency because public funds were recklessly expended on irrelevant but huge projects and ventures without adequate projection of the funds available to the state.
“The whole world is aware of the fact that former Ekiti lawmakers were heavily bribed on the bill of Osun state for several months where they mapped out strategies on how to impeach Governor Fayose. It is also fresh in minds the huge amount Ogbeni Aregbesola expended on the last Ekiti governorship poll, Lagos governorship poll, and the Presidential project of the APC.
PDP also accused Aregbesola of “pocketing the state lawmakers” and arming a militant group “to unleash terror on residents”.
“For the state lawmakers, they must have it at the back of their minds that the fragile hope of Osun indigenes now rest on them and we want to advise that they should not be rubber stamp in the hands of the governor,” the statement read.
“In the next four years, they must do all within their power to rescue the state from the grip of enemies and write their names in gold.
“Also, a group of miscreants called “State Boys” are being armed and financed by government to unleash terror on many indigenes of the state. All these actions and many other wasteful spending led us to where we are now which if they could be reversed could bring financial reserves for the state.”
Responding, Aregbesola described the allegation as “infantile,” saying the PDP was seeking cheap publicity with the hope of amending its “battered image”.
The governor also said he would not heed the advice of disposing the helicopter because it was procured for the provision of security in the state.
He added that he had not converted it for personal use.
“It is disheartening that this is how degenerate PDP has become in their thinking process,” Semiu Okanlawon, director of bureau of communication and strategy in the governor’s office, said in a statement.
“They screamed ignorantly about two years ago that Osun procured a helicopter with a sum of N8 billion. We had asked them to find out the cost of a Boeing plane let alone a helicopter which was only leased and it was to beef up the Osun Swift Action Squad (SAS) for its aerial surveillance.
“This was clear to all in the state that the helicopter was procured as part of the Rauf Aregbesola administration’s comprehensive security measures to drive criminals far away from the state.
“It is obvious the PDP, after it has reached its final bus stop of defeat rigmarole, as typified by the Supreme Court decision of May 27, is merely looking for something to keep it relevant.
“But come to think of it! What could be relevant in a party that never had any touch with the people? What could be relevant in party that cannot even organise itself to give credible and virile opposition?
“It is therefore certain that allegations such as Aregbesola financing Lagos, Ekiti, and Muhammadu Buhari’s elections are not only laughable; they demonstrate the fact that PDP cannot even be rescued from its self-inflicted tragedy. It is a party eternally rejected.”