AGENE GODWIN, Benin
Leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo state, weekend, declared that the bailout doled to states by the Federal Government of President Muhammadu Buhari to offset the huge debts of salary arrears owed local government workers across the country is an easy conduit pipe for state governors to milk the councils.
Chairman of PDP in the state, Chief Dan Orbih who stated this during the opening of the new secretariat complex acquired by opposition party members preparatory for 2016 governorship election, tasked President Buhari to stop further disbursement of the bailout funds to states.
Orbih said: “There is, no doubt, that there is monumental mismanagement of local government allocation in Edo state under Adams Oshiomhole. That is why on this very occasion of the official opening of the PDP headquarters in Benin City, I want to call on President Buhari to stop the present practice of payment of financial bailout.
“Financial bailout by Buhari is a way of encouraging corruption in Nigeria. They (governors) have enough allocation for the local governments; so the question the President should ask is by finding out what is responsible for this government not being able to meet its financial obligations to the people in various local governments.”
However, the All Progressives Congress (APC) Publicity Secretary in the state, Comrade Godwin Erhahon in a reaction said “They (Orbih and his party members) spoke out of ignorance and malice because a retreat is not supposed to be done in one’s house. So, a retreat is one that will take one out of one’s place that is why is called a retreat.
“Secondly, on the issue of whether or not Oshiomhole will finish well, my response is that Oshiomhole will finish much better than PDP government did. PDP government started bad and ended badly; in our own case we have something to show for our mandate. We are very proud of it that we have done well and the people are satisfied. Therefore, there is great assurance that he will finish well.
“Edo people are aware that during the time of PDP, teachers’ salaries, particularly, at the primary school level which was the responsibility of local governments were outstanding and so the educational system at that level was disrupted because of non-payment of salaries but because of our commitment to strong and quality education we ensured that the salaries are paid.
He added that, “They (PDP) are not in a position to advise President Buhari on whether or not to give bailout. They are not because we came in for positive change and those of them who have committed all the atrocities that we are here to change are not in a good position to advise us to follow their old ways.
“Before the federal government granted the bailout, it examined all the factors and it was clear that actually there is shortfall in the allocation because of the drop in oil market and therefore the revenue of governments at all levels has dwindled and so it is not true that there is not enough for local governments to do what they ought to do”.
On his part, Orbih said, “In Edo state, it is very clear. Let us take Oredo local government, for example, from January to October, Oredo local government council has received well over one billion, fifty seven million naira from the federal allocation but from the account of the local government council chairman, what got to the council from the state government is only N102m.”
Orbih stated “I want to repeat it. Since Adams resumed office as governor of Edo state, local government councils have received from the office of the Accountant General over N200billion; of this amount all they needed to pay workers salaries in the past seven years was N75billion. But let me tell you, even the workers’ salaries he could not pay.”
The leadership of PDP blasted the state government for what it described as a wasteful three-day retreat held in Abuja last two weeks with the theme ‘Finishing Well’ insisting that the present APC led administration in the state will not finish well.
“From what you can see it is obvious that from this party headquarters, we will be leading this party to victory and back to government in Edo state. A few days ago I read in the papers that the governor of Edo state, Adams Oshiomhole was in Abuja at the most prestigious and expensive Hilton Hotel to organize a retreat for members of his cabinet and permanent secretaries, a three day retreat; the theme of that retreat is “Finishing Well.”
The PDP state chairman noted that, “In all that I have seen in my political life, I have never seen a wrong theme given to a subject like the theme of the three day retreat by the Edo state government which was labelled finishing well.”
“You all know that Adams Oshiomhole cannot finish well, so for Adams to embark on another journey for financial waste, taking the members of his cabinet and permanent secretaries all the way to Abuja is an abnormal”.
“Apart from Oredo local government council, he has continued to remove money for the development of other councils. That is why bailout is not the solution; the President must embark on very measures on finding out why these state governments cannot meet their obligations to the various local government councils.
From Edo state, for example, it is clear that there is enough funds to the various local governments councils but the problem is that some of these governors, instead of giving these funds to the local government council they have decided to use these funds for themselves.”
“That is why it has taken over seven years for the governor to complete the official residence of the chief judge of Edo state whereas it took him eighteen months to complete his own personal residence at Iyamho borne by the tax payers of Edo state.
While challenging the governor “to go court to prove that all that I have been saying are wrong,” he assured the people of the state that “Edo PDP is listening to the cries of Edo people.”
“With your support and with the support of the masses I believe with the lessons of our past and the failure of Adams Oshiomhole’s government, a PDP government in 2016 will advance the cause of the common man in Edo state.”