Something new, beautiful or ugly always comes out of the old South-west. The West bred NADECO or “Agbako” if you prefer Diya’s nomenclature. It equally bred the self-styled Abacha‘s ‘new realists’, headed by Ebenezar Babatope who told us Abacha was the best to have happened to Nigeria. His other fellow travelers include Elder Wole Oyelese, Dr Walter Ofonagoro, and Wada Nas.
It was also the western Abacha administrators that constituted the vanguard of what they termed ‘Abacha historic mission’. Leading the pack was Colonel Olagunsoye Oyinlola then of Lagos, under the assault of man-made plague-broken roads, UN cleared refuse dumps and Abacha state sponsored violence. Other ignoble members of the Abacha fraudulent ‘historic mission’ were administrators Nwosu of Oyo and Ahmed Usman of Ondo among others.
But the Fourth Republic has lived up to its reputation by throwing up the ugliest of the wild, wild, West. No matter how PDP governors from other geo-political zones tried, it will be difficult to beat the records of James Ibori described by a London court as ‘rogue in state house’, or that of Lucky Igbenedion who earned the same appellation from a Benin court. Ayo Fayose of Ekiti, Gbenga Daniel of Ogun, Adebayo Alao-Akala of Oyo, all accused of squalid conducts in government houses still have dates with the court. The West produced more firsts. It produced Olusegun Agagu of Ondo, Professor Oserheimen Osunbor of Edo, and Segun Oni of Ekiti and Olagunsoye Oyinlola of Osun who were indicted by the courts for stealing others’ mandates.
For those who may be wondering about how South-west PDP governors have been able to chalk up such unenviable and unsavory reputation, the defence put up by Oyinlola, before the Prof. Femi Odekunle-led six-member panel of inquiry set up to investigate the circumstances surrounding the procurement of an N18, 38b loan and other major financial transactions by his government between May 29, 2003 and November 27, 2010 provides two possible explanations – incompetence or greed or both.
First Oyinlola, swore he was motivated by service to his people to take the loan of N18.35b which exposed his state to ‘huge monthly repayment of a sum of N615 million to service a loan that by all accounts had no viable source of repayment’. He has told us that faced with a situation where “salaries of civil servants and pensions consumed 90 per cent of the earnings of his state” following “a reduction in the federal allocation to states in 2009, when the crises in the Niger Delta affected oil production” he was left with no other choice but to seek the help of the leadership of his state House of Assembly which in his words “advised us to take the loan at interest rate of 13% to address germane issues of 2010 Budget.”
After obtaining the loan, his “administration used part of the loan to award contract for kits for the use of pupils in primary and secondary schools because of the poor performance of students in science subjects and Mathematics”.
We have no reason to doubt Oyinlola’s genuine concern in this regard. But the question is how come it took the loan for an administration that had been in office for over seven years to realize the ‘poor performance of Osun state students in science and mathematics’? How was the decision to award contact arrived at? This question is relevant because we are not going to invent the wheel. Obama has just proposed in his next year budget a huge sum for the training of about 100,000 science and mathematics teachers to enable America catch up with China. But here it is a lot easier to award contracts than train teachers.
A big chunk of the loan also went into the six stadia projects; the governor claimed was not even the idea of his government. According to him it was ‘the youths of the state that called the attention of its administration to the development of sports, during one of the open forum programme organized by his government’. We were not told if this youth-initiated policy was subjected to rigorous debate by the cabinet or the rubber stamping house. But the ex-governor saw in the borrowed idea, an opportunity to spread infrastructural development through the location of a stadium in each of the six zones across the state.
But the question again is does Osun need six stadia in a situation where Lagos that harbours millions of enthusiastic football and other sports fans until recently had only one? And if Oyinlola’s administration was persuaded that six stadia were needed, should the contracts be awarded less than a year to the end of his term? What is the time frame for the completion of the projects? These questions are also pertinent because ex-governor Oyinlola also disclosed to the panel that some of the contracts his government awarded for roads rehabilitation were not implemented by the contractor. He has had to seek the intervention of Ooni of Ife because cancelation of the contracts was not a viable option since Osun state according to him ‘stands to lose about N500million’.
There are more questions: “Why was the entire loan fully drawn by the PDP administration prior to the commencement of projects, even when the construction periods of the various projects for which it was meant were between 12-24 months? Oyinlola’s admission that only N10.1billion was drawn down does still not answer this question
Whose interest was being served by lodging the loan in an account with the same bank without accruing any interest while the state simultaneously made payment of N615 million as interests and charges .?
Whose interest was served by an administration that spent over seven years in office, had N67.3billion excess free oil windfall to play around, and yet left behind a legacy of suffocating N615 million loan monthly repayments?
How for instance was Osun state whose total IGR under Oyinlola never exceeded N300m going to survive with a monthly loan repayment of N615 million spread over 13 years?
Aregbesola no doubt has an axe to grind with Oyinlola who stole his mandate for close to four years; but he has in my view tried to rise beyond the bitter politics of the state by merely describing his predecessor’s scandalous action merely as ‘running foul of simple rule of sound financial management’.
The truth of the matter is that Oyinlola and his state House of Assembly have not behaved differently from other South-west PDP governors who have been indicted or facing charges in court for squalid behavior arising from unimplemented contract bazaar they dished out just to satisfy the greed of PDP members.
In a more decent society, Oyinlola who was shamed by Marwa’s superlative performance after his dismal Lagos outing would never have been presented for an elective office by a political party worthy of its name. But in character with PDP philosophy of service to members only, Oyinlola , after another scandalous outing in Osun State, and an indictment for electoral fraud by an Appeal Court, has moved up to become national secretary of the PDP.
As part of our continuing nightmare, PDP which in itself is deficit in honour and morality following the indictment of nearly all its past party chairmen is moulding our nation in the image of some depraved ex-governors, ex-Senate presidents, and ex-Speakers of the Lower House and committee chairmen.