By Sunday Oguntuyi, Osogbo
A former Commissioner for Finance, Budget and Economic Planning in Osun State, Dr. Wale Bolorunduro has asked The Osun Masterminds group to direct all questions relating to debt profile of the state to Governor Adegboyega Oyetola.
Bolorunduro said Oyetola was the Chairman of Debt Management Office under the administration of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola and can therefore, not shy away from his responsibility to tell the people the loans that were taken and what they were deployed to.
In a statement on Sunday, the former commissioner said Oyetola was the supervisor of all debts issues and was the government official who sat over all cases of approvals for allocation of funds for projects.
The Osun Masterminds group had last week asked Oyetola to demand from Aregbesola the debt profile of the state.
Reacting to the request of the group, Bolorunduro said it was clear that The Osun Masterminds was sponsored by and working for Governor Oyetola.
Bolorunduro said: “They have posed questions to Governor Oyetola and I have no choice than to let it be ab-initio, because of the following reasons:
“He was the Chairman of the Board of Osun Debt Management Office during the tenure of Ogbeni Aregbesola.
“He was the Coordinating Officer, the first and the last gatekeeper and as the most powerful Chief of Staff, who was approving all request memos to Aregbesola for final approval. When those projects were approved, the memos were endorsed to him for final treatment. So, he is the repertoire of those records and answers that The Osun Mastermind wants.”
The former commissioner said he handed over the finance portfolio of the state to Oyetola in 2014 when he was the Chief of Staff to the governor, saying Oyetola was also the one confirming final funds released by banks until commissioners were appointed in May 2017.
He added: “So, as the sole commissioner for almost three years, he could also answer those long questions of the Osun Mastermind. It is now time for our dear Governor Oyetola to put his money, where his mouth is, as requested by his citizens in Osun Masterminds group. I trust my excellency; he would not answer them.
Bolorunduro said he was appointed on August 12, 2011 when Aregbesola’s cabinet was put in place. He argued that the Chief of Staff, Oyetola, had assumed office since January 7, 2011, before he (Bolorunduro) became the state’s Commissioner for Finance.
The commissioner said all over the world, loans are borrowed to fix infrastructure and other developmental purposes.
He said: “Osun people can see the roads, schools and other infrastructures that were executed with the debt finance. Osogbo people are happy with Aregbesola, any day and any time because he has transformed Osogbo to a modern city. There are four completed bridges, flyover, underpasses on Oba Adesoji Aderemi Circular Road, the urban renewals of Osogbo. For some of the federal roads, our amiable, lucky Governor Oyetola has been collecting refunds from Federal Government, be it N11bn or N13bn or N17.5b naira.”
Bolorunduro advised the Osun Masterminds group, which he accused of being sponsored to tarnish Aregbsola’s name to seek knowledge on debt issues.
He accused the group and its leaders of dabbling into an issue they have no knowledge of, asking: “How do you reason with individuals, who don’t know how to determine borrowing capacity of a sovereignty or sub-sovereignty. How do you get into debt sustainability issue with such souls?”
He argued that the current average gross revenue of Osun from federation account is N4.3billion monthly, while that of local governments is about N4billion.
The former commissioner stated: “You don’t need any fussy mathematics to know that the gross revenue of the state of Osun must have dropped to less than N2.5 billion monthly in 2016, which is within the period of interest to the Osun Mastermind and the period, the Oyetola-led Government – Labour committee recommended salary apportionment because of the drop in revenue, when oil price dropped below $30 per barrel.”
Bolorunduro went further: “The state of Osun has published its 2020 audited account and its total revenue was about N100bn for the year, which includes its IGR of N19billion. The monthly loan deduction attributable to the bequeathed debt portfolio is now N1.5b monthly, which translates to N18bn annually, less than 20 per cent of the annual revenue of the state. Even at peak period, which was the first seven months of Governor Oyetola administration, it was less than 30 percent.”
He disclosed further that the government under Aregbesola had refinanced all the Construction Finance Facilities, which he said were used to augment and jumpstart the roads projects funding, way before the end of the second term of Aregbesola.
The former commissioner noted: “That we could refinance to long term facilities shows that the portfolio is not exposed to refinancing risk, which has a nexus to sustainability. I have given the debt portfolio figure of Osun bequeathed on Oyetola by Aregbesola and that the components are long term financing with weighted average interest rate of 11.75 per cent per annum. Let The Osun Mastermind or Governor Oyetola contradict that with facts and figures.”