Whereas, it was thought that the clarifications made through a release by my office (Osun Debt Management Office-‘’Osun DMO’’) last week would have sufficed to clear the grey areas about the unending narratives on Osun Debt portfolio which has remained a daily topical issue in the State, i was however taken aback by the arrogant display of ignorance by the former Finance commissioner in the State in person of Wale Bolorunduro in his further rhetoric on the subject.
The referenced clarifications of mine were in response to one of Wale’s uncouth insinuations earlier published in the State’s local newspaper-Osun Defender. To my utmost shock, rather than taking his time to carefully read through the clarifications and perhaps consult necessary literature on contemporary Public debt management before further outburst, Wale in his characteristic manner, decided to take a roguish, degrading and self-destructive path further on the matter.
While i had decided at this time not to make any comments on Wale’s open display of arrogance as exhibited in the opening paragraphs of his jumbled publication (alluding to some unfounded claims about my credentials before joining the services of the State), it is considered important to reveal his awful ignorance about Public debt management, and take him through some rudiments on the concept. Issues relating to his attacks on my personality in his referenced publication of last week Friday shall be addressed appropriately through a proper medium.
First, as the current head of the State’s Debt management office (DMO), i wish to maintain that the Debt portfolio passed by the last administration to the current administration in the State is in excess of =N=200billion. At this time, i think i need to explain to Wale that Public debt portfolio of either a Sovereign or Sub-national does not refer only to borrowings (which could be either domestic or external), but also includes domestic expenditure arrears. These are government liabilities on financial obligations already dispensed with or services rendered with whose payments are yet to be made. These include Contractors’ arrears, Salary arrears, Pension and gratuities, judgemental debts, and government-to-government debts. The totality of this, added to loan amount is what is referred to as Debt stock. I am indeed shocked that a former Finance commissioner will be questioning the rationale (and the applicable Accounting standard) for my inclusion of domestic arrears as part of government’s liability or Debt portfolio. If Salary arrears, contractors’ arrears, Pension and gratuity outstanding are not debt hanging on the State government, how come workers, contractors and pensioners in the State keep agitating for settlement of their arrears?. Am certain all the people concerned will be shocked to hear from Wale that their expected arrears do not qualified to be classified as debt in the State’s record simply because they were not collateralised as indicated in his roguish outburst.
Apart from recognising them as part of debt portfolio, all the states in the country are currently being urged to develop workable framework for managing Domestic arrears considering their numerous economic and multiplier impacts. For us in Osun, the process of verification of the various domestic arrears and development of the required framework for managing same are yet to be concluded while the current administration keeps allocating funds to reduce this. Hence my office’s restrain on quoting a specific figure on same.
Second, on the issue of disclosure of necessary details on the State’s Debt portfolio, I wonder the level of disclosure expected from the State’s DMO by Wale. Aside from fulfilling the routine reporting obligations on the State’s debts to the Federal DMO, our office has since 2020 been publishing comprehensive annual report on the State’s Debt Sustainability Analysis (DSA) and Debt management Strategy (DMS) on the State’s official website. This important and public document contains among other details, the State’s total revenue, expenditures, Medium term fiscal framework, and debt stock. This is contrary to Wale’s claim, and in fulfilment of additional reporting requirements aimed at ensuring transparency on sub-nationals’ financial management. This is in tandem with practices across informed climes.
Interested members of the public are encouraged to check this up from the State’s website. I am certain Wale’s level of ignorance about the State’s financial affairs, full knowledge of which he was always arrogantly claiming will be fully revealed. Members of the public can then judge who is ignorant and unprofessional between my humble self and Financial engineer Wale Bolorunduro who continues to showcase the limit of his understanding of Public financial management. Ignorance they say, is ‘the root of misfortune, and an enemy even to its owner’’.
Finally, if there are other issues unsettling Wale’s mind about Governor Gboyega Oyetola himself, or his ably-led administration in the State, i will like to urge any of Wale’s allies to counsel him to find a courteous way and better avenue to address them instead of continuously exhibiting his arrogance and lack of depth on contemporary Public debt issues and financial management. Else, Wale might be garrulously driving himself to his ‘’Golgotha’’.
Tunde Adejumo, PhD is Osun state
Director-General, of Debt Managrment Office