ABEOKUTA – Ogun state Commissioner for Finance, Wole Oshinowo was yesterday grilled by the Ogun State House of Assembly (OGHA) over alleged missing of N17. 3 billion bailout fund released to the state by the federal government last September 2018.
The Assembly’s House Committee on Finance and Appropriation had earlier on three occasions invited Oshinowo to appear before it and explain reasons for the delay in the disbursement of the last tranche of the federal government bailout funds which the state was yet to disburse appropriately.
They said bailout fund of N17. 3 billion released to the state by the federal government was meant to offset the backlogs of worker’s salaries deductions and gratuities among other state obligatory expenses.
But appearing before the House Committee on Finance and Appropriation presided over by its chairman, Honourable Victor Fasanya on Thursday, Oshinowo explained that the state was at the verge of finalising all conditions for its disbursement.
The Commissioner dispelled the allegation that the state had misappropriated the fund, reassuring that the Ibikunle Amosun led administration in the state would continue to promote accountability and transparency in all its activities.
NEWS FLAGSHIP recalls that the state governor Senator Ibikunle Amosun through the Commissioner had at a press conference held last September, told journalists that, a whopping sum of N17.3billion being part of the Paris Fund bailout received late night on 20th September would be used to offset workers’ cooperative deductions, gratuity, severance packages and furniture allowance, while the balance of the fund would go into social services for the benefits of the people of the state.
But it was widely rumoured that the fund had been confiscated by the First bank of Nigeria (FBN) over an alleged unpaid loan taken from the bank by the state government.
The development however, compelled the state House of Assembly to invite the Finance Commissioner to brief it over the financial status of the state with particular mentioning of the debt profile of the state.
Commenting on the state’s domestic debt however, Oshinowo put the total debt of the state at N106 billion out of which he said N14. 5 billion was incurred from the bailout funds.
He added that the state voluntarily opted for repayment tenure of 10 years as part of its efforts to financially repositioning Ogun.
Oshinowo further assured the Assembly that his office remain committed to the successful implementation of the financial autonomy passed into law by the National Assembly.
While speaking to journalists shortly after the Assembly’s session, the commissioner said the funds was recalled by the federal government over some parameters which are yet to be met by the state but assured that Ogun would get the money back latest early next week.
“Actually the funds were recalled due to some certain parameters that must be fulfilled before it will be returned to individual states but that parameter and conditions have been met now which we did with the local chapter of the NLC in Ogun state. I am sure that before the end of the week or early of next week the funds is likely to be with us.
“It is being done stage by stage and we have finalized our own and we are ready to take our own back.
“The first parameter is that 50 per cent of the funds must be for workers, while the rest of the 50 per cent will be on the prerogative of the executive of the state. The moment these prerogatives are written and signed with the NLC in agreement, I am sure they will release the funds to us.”
When asked how true is the rumours that the funds were trapped in the first bank, the commissioner said “that is a total lie, there is nothing of such the money is not in any bank, the money is with the Central Bank and you can validate my statement with the CBN.”