June 6, 2023

Gov Dapo Abiodun in dirty fight with Ogun Local Government Chairmen over multi-billion naira allocations

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Local Government Chairmen across Ogun State are set for a showdown with the governor of the state, Prince Dapo Abiodun, over what they described as a betrayal of trust and non-reward of loyalty by the governor and secretary of the state government, Tokunbo Talabi.

The disquiet, which has now resorted to threats of arrest, jail and kidnapping by some loyalists of the governor against some of the chairmen, may fuel the already tension-soaked state after the governorship election.

Governor Abiodun, whose administration came with the mantra of ensuring the independence of local councils and adequate remuneration of federal allocations to them and ensuring proper discharge of statutory roles, walked back on his promise immediately after the incumbent council chairmen were inaugurated.

Trouble started for the chairmen when they were invited by the governor to open Access Bank accounts for their local councils but were denied the opportunity to be signatories to the bank accounts, according to multiple sources within the governor’s office who pleaded anonymity for fear of being reprimanded.

The accounts which were opened at the Abeokuta branch of the bank were to receive statutory allocations from the federal government. However, rather than have the chairman of the council and director of finance as signatories to the accounts, only their phone numbers were linked to the accounts to receive credit and debit alerts.

A director of finance in one of the councils disclosed that sometimes they receive credit alerts in the morning and, by afternoon, a debit alert withdrawing the amount without any input or authorisation from the council. The director stated that an example of such was when the council received N300 million into the account, and within five minutes, a debit of N295 million was equally received with no knowledge of how it happened and no explanation.

Ecological Funds

While the chairmen seem to have gotten used to the system of absolute control by Governor Abiodun, a recent meeting after the governorship election where the governor mandated them to sign for the collection of the federal government-allocated ecological funds without receiving a dime broke the camels back.

“Who does the governor think he is?” a chairman in Ogun central protested in anger while speaking with our correspondent. “We played a significant role in ensuring his reelection. We kept quiet while the public abused us and called us thieves for not doing anything. What do they expect us to do when he has taken all the money? Now he wants us to sign for billions of naira we didn’t collect. At the end of the day, who would EFCC be after? Definitely not him!“

Money for legal case

But while the chairmen continue to oppose the move by the governor to corner the ecological fund, a close ally of Mr Abiodun disclosed that the sudden discontent of the chairmen against the governor was selfish and not in the interest of the people.

According to him, the chairmen are aware the governor is done with them and looking to replace them during his second term.

“What do they want from this man? During the election, they were adequately mobilised but kept the money to themselves, the election was a tough battle, and it wouldn’t have been so if they had done what was required.

“Now we are in court. Do they think tribunal cases are free? Where do they expect the governor to get that kind of fund after the election?”

Thugs taking over functions of local councils

When asked why local councils could not function with revenues they make from the statutory model, some of the council members disclosed that every rate, levy and ticket that is distributed across the markets and parks, garages and shops, even though bear the local government names, the state government prints them and funds are taking to governor’s office.

The chairmen disclosed that they are at the mercy of transport union members within their vicinity who acts as the governor’s boys and determine when they would meet the governor or discuss matters of the council.

Attempts to speak with the governor were unsuccessful. Multiple calls made to his personal line were unanswered while the state commissioner for information Waheed Odusile’s number didn’t connect.

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