Home Features Osun Lawmakers Clash Over State’s ‘Rising’ Debts, World Bank Grant

Osun Lawmakers Clash Over State’s ‘Rising’ Debts, World Bank Grant

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Federal lawmakers from Osun State are currently engaged in an angry altercation over the state’s rising debt profile and how a $20 million grant by the World Bank is being spent.

These issues, and more, have pitched the caucus of the All Progressives Congress, (comprising two senators and six members of the House of Representatives) against the only senator in the Peoples Democratic Party, Francis Fadahunsi (Osun East).

Briefing journalists in Abuja, the APC caucus led by the Senate spokesperson, Ajibola Bashiru (APC Osun Central) and Femi Fakeye, condemned comments credited to Mr Fadahunsi where he warned that the state had exceeded its debt threshold and had become too insolvent to borrow more – with a total debt profile of over N170 billion.

He had said the state was not economically viable and too steep in debts to go shopping for more loans. He said doing so will mean mortgaging the future of the residents and condemning them to a life of perpetual servitude.

Osun State currently ranks as the sixth most indebted state in Nigeria.

The opposition lawmaker had also faulted how the $20 million World Bank grant recently given to the state, was spent.

Counter offensive

But Mr Basiru accused Mr Fadahunsi of “scare mongering” and trying to create needless conflict.

The caucus said three other PDP members of the House of Representatives are not on the same page with him. Hence, “the need to single him out as an enemy of progress.”

“The alarm being raised by Fadahunsi is unwarranted. It’s only meant to whip up sentiments that are not rooted in facts except perhaps in favour of his failing political party.”

He said the Osun State Government has over the years exhibited rare “character in its finances and has not made any move towards borrowing”.

To demonstrate its openness, Mr Basiru said, the state did not hesitate to cut down on its 2020 budget to N82 billion in line “with the harsh financial realities occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic”.

“Contrary to the impression created by Fadahunsi, the state government under Governor Gboyega Oyetola and his predecessor, Rauf Aregbesola, had been open and transparent with regular auditing of the financial records.

“Whether you are open or not, you cannot escape mischievous remarks like those of Senator Fadahunsi. The government is transparent with the books audited quarterly and annually,” he said.

Grant

The lawmakers also said the $20 million grant has been judiciously used to “put into proper shape, all the 332 Primary Health Care Centres (PHCs) across the various wards in the state, including where Fadaunsi hails from.”

The grant, the caucus said, “is domiciled with the Central Bank and releases are made only when they satisfy the World Bank’s procurement process.”

“Of the 332 PHCs earmarked for rehabilitation, the administration awarded 315 with 256 already fully equipped and functioning. In Fadahunsi’s ljesa area alone, the government has inaugurated 47 PHCs. Specifically, in Obokun Local Government Area where Distinguished Senator Fadaunsi comes from and five of the PHCs are up and running.

“Apart from fixing the PHCs to enviable standards, the state government is also fixing the major general hospitals in Osun. For instance, it is constructing a 120-bed ward and 30 units of doctors’ quarters at Asubiaro Specialist Hospital, Osogbo, just as it has rehabilitated and revitalised the Ejigbo General Hospital, which today is equipped with modern equipment.

“Additionally, the government has also rehabilitated and revitalised the General Hospital at Ifetedo. Apart from spending on infrastructure.”

‘Not satisfied’

In his reaction, Mr Fadaunsi said the APC lawmakers “know the truth about the insolvent status of Osun State but were being economical with it.”

He maintained the state was not economically viable and too steeped in debts to go shopping for more loans. He vowed to continue to raise alarm over such plans “despite being outnumbered”.

Regarding the grant, the lawmaker said the APC caucus lied when it said the State Government had used the money to establish PHCs.

He challenged the caucus to come forward with details of the contracts awarded for the PHCs, “the equipment and drugs bought as well as those engaged to work there”.

“Merely painting and repairing the roof of existing PHCs cannot not be what the state government spent N7 billion on,” he said.

Other members of the APC caucus at the briefing were Adelere Oriolowo (Osun West), Taiwo Olukemi Oluga, Lawrence Babatunde Ayeni, Olubukola Oyewo, Afolabi Rasheed, and Amobi Yinusa.

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