Inside Gov Abiodun’s dirty billions of naira fight with local government Chairmen
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.
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.
Breaking: FG To Meet NLC Today Over Fuel Subsidy Removal
The Federal Government of Nigeria is set to hold a meeting with the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) today at 2 pm to discuss the planned removal of fuel subsidy.
This development was revealed by NLC National President, Joe Ajaero, during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily program.
Ajaero stated that while President Bola Tinubu may have good intentions, the Labour Congress insists that alternatives must be provided. He emphasized the need for the President to understand the implications of fuel subsidy removal on the Nigerian populace and consider the welfare of the people.
Among the alternatives proposed by the NLC are the repair of the country’s four refineries and the provision of transportation alternatives for Nigerian workers, among other measures.
In a separate statement, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) expressed support for the deregulation of the oil sector and the removal of fuel subsidy, believing that it is necessary for Nigeria’s progress.
President Tinubu had announced the end of fuel subsidy in his inaugural speech on Monday, stating that the 2023 budget does not allocate funds for subsidy payments. Instead, the government plans to redirect funds towards infrastructure and other sectors to strengthen the economy.
However, the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) argues that the President cannot unilaterally decide on subsidy removal. They pointed out that the previous administration under Muhammadu Buhari intentionally left the “sensitive issue” for the new government to address.
Since the President’s announcement, fuel queues have reappeared across the country as Nigerians search for fuel, with prices ranging from N300 per liter and above.
Further updates on this matter will be provided.
El-Rufai’s legacy as successor inherits N80bn, $577m debt
Former Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State stated on Monday that he left the state in a better condition than when he assumed office in 2015.
He highlighted the initiation of legacy projects that empowered the citizens during his tenure. El-Rufai also disclosed that he left N5 billion and $2.05 million in the state treasury. However, he acknowledged leaving behind a domestic debt of N80.60 billion and a foreign debt of $577.32 million for the new administration.
El-Rufai expressed optimism that the incoming government would settle all inherited liabilities, complete ongoing projects, and initiate new ones. He mentioned receivables for reimbursements of infrastructure and security spending from the Federal Government, as well as accumulated stamp duties receipts, which would contribute to the state’s finances.
Meanwhile, Senator Uba Sani was sworn in as the new Governor of Kaduna State. In his inaugural speech, he emphasized that his administration would prioritize the well-being of all citizens, regardless of religion, ethnicity, or political affiliation. The governor announced the renaming of the famous “Rabah Road” to “Nasir El-Rufai Road” in honor of the late Sardauna of Sokoto and Premier of Northern Nigeria, Sir Ahmadu Bello.
Governor Sani pledged to govern with inclusiveness, fairness, justice, and equity. He emphasized that there would be no settler/indigene dichotomy in Kaduna State, as all residents were considered equal with the same rights, privileges, and responsibilities. He assured the people that his government would serve all citizens and assemble a competent team to effectively manage the affairs of the state.
Panic as petrol price jumps to N350/ltr
The removal of petrol subsidy in Nigeria has caused a significant uproar in the downstream sector of the petroleum industry.
As consumers flocked to petrol stations, operators wasted no time in implementing a sharp increase in pump prices. This sudden price hike has also led to commercial transporters raising their fares nationwide.
During his inaugural speech, President Bola Tinubu made it clear that the era of petroleum subsidy was over. Investigations in Lagos revealed that some marketers responded by doubling the price from N185 to N370 per litre. However, a few major marketers maintained prices between N195 and N220 per litre in Lagos and Abuja.
The situation worsened as some petrol stations decided to close their operations, resulting in long queues at the remaining stations. Depot owners also halted their activities, arguing that they needed further clarification on the implementation of the new policy.
In Abuja, motorists faced long queues at petrol stations as they grappled with the subsidy removal. Meanwhile, commuters found themselves stranded at bus stops, waiting for buses that were either caught up in the frenzy or had raised fares by 50 to 100 percent due to the fear of impending scarcity.
One disgruntled motorist, expressing their frustration, criticized President Tinubu’s decision, stating that it was a punishment for the already economically burdened Nigerians who had endured the previous administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
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