The rift between Governor Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State and his predecessor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, current Minister of Interior, deepened Wednesday as their key loyalists traded blames over the huge debt profile of the state.
While supporters of Aregbesola said Osun’s debt incurred during his tenure had been liquidated, those in Oyetola’s camp said the former governor and his loyalists are economical with the truth as the Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC) recently disclosed that “Osun State under Aregbesola was hugely indebted to the tune of about N170 billion.”
Speaking with Daily Independent, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Osun, who played a key role in Oyetola’s emergence as governor and also served in Aregbesola’s administration, said Oyetola was still paying back the huge debts incurred by Aregbesola, yet has not defaulted in payments of salaries and other responsibilities since assumption of office.
“We all know what transpired under Aregbesola. Months of unpaid salaries and a situation where religious bodies and civil society organisations were donating food items to Osun people, especially civil servants. Osun was just like Somalia under him. We are thankful to God that despite challenges and paucity of funds, nothing of such has happened under Governor Oyetola”.
“Some few months ago, the former governor and most of his loyalists, including a former commissioner in the state, Hon. Bola Ilori, were everywhere gloating over the fact that Osun’s debt had been liquidated and as such, supporters of the current governor, Adegboyega Oyetola, have no justification for complaining over paucity of funds”.
“But reports in the papers appear to have exposed their lies and propaganda. For instance, in one of the reports in one of the national dailies, published on April 6, 2021, it stated that for Osun, the public debt stood at N169,784,799,861.33, while the revenue stood at N24, 222,272,968.42. This puts the debt to revenue ratio at 700.94 percent. It, therefore, exceeded the 50 percent rule by 650.94 percent.”
Curiously, however, political watchers of events in the state believed that what was on ground under the former governor does not in any way justify the huge debt profile of the state.Those who hold this view are quick to also add that the about N170 billion debt does not include debts owed to local contractors and other commercial banks in the country.
“I have been part of the APC government here since 2010 and I can tell you authoritatively that the current administration had paid debts of over N40 billion since it came without borrowing money from anywhere,” he said.