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LG Funds Diversion: Of intergrity, accountability and  politics 

Olatunde Abatan
Olatunde Abatan
Sometime in December 2022,President Muhammadu Buhari while receiving members of the Course 44 of the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies,NIPSS,kuru Jos, declared the high level of corruption within the rank of state governors in the country and their local government counterpart.
This corruption he identified,stems from the lack of intergrity on the part of state governors in disbursing money sent to local government under them to the hapless local councils as provided for in the constitution.
The high level of lack of corruption he said is so pervasive that if for instance Federal Account Allocation Committee, FAAC, gives local government from the monthly allocation a  sum of One hundred million naira,(100m),the governors will pocket half of the amount and to cap their impunity ‘ask the local government Chairmen to sign for N100million and pocket the remaining,share it to whoever he wants .
On their part, he alleged the local government chairmen will be given salaries from the other half while he will be asked to pocket the rest.
To drive home his point,President Buhari who spoke in apparent frustration with failed efforts to persuade and get the Senate to amend the constitution for full financial autonomy to local governments in the country wondered how there will be development in the councils.
Such is it that out of the 44 constitutional amendments sent to the states by the upper legislative chamber,only 35 got a pass mark from state assemblies as at the end of the end of the tenure of ninth assembly.
Reason:state governors all over the country with no exception,rejected autonomy for councils for apparent reasons.
Thus,it is clear state governors in the country are also dictators in their own territory breathing down the neck of local councils while they are quick to ask for more money from the Revenue allocation.
In other words,while they cry of over centralization of powers in the centre,they display hypocrisy by doing same in theirs states muzzling the local councils.
This bring into fore the serious issue of intergrity, accountability and probity raised previous week by Honourable Wale Adedayo, Chairman of the Ijebu East local government who wrote a letter to  a former Ogun state governor,Olusegun Osoba, chieftain of the All People’s Congress, APC and elder in the state complaining about the ‘seizure’  and diversion of local government allocation by Governor Dapo Abiodun since 2021.
 Adedayo,apparently displaying the journalist in him including a zeal to perform his job to his Ijebu East local government, by his action unprecedented in the history of the state by his action, broke rank and did the unthinkable for calling his governor to order.
He also apparently handed him over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission,EFCC, and the Independent Corrupt Practises Commission,ICPC for investigation though the governor has immunity.
Adedayos boldness and bravery indeed stirs the honest nest not only un Ogun state but exposed grand corruption being perpetuated by the thirty six state governors .
The unruffled Adedayo, known for his previous battles with his former boss, Senator Gbenga Daniel, played to high stakes as no local government chairman in the country ever displayed such boldness considering the impunity and conquerors attitude of the governors earlier exposed by Buhari.
To him, how could the councils develop when funds meant for such are diverted by governors who have turned themselves into Emperor because of the faulty State/Local government Joint account system.
The dearth of funds for development in the twenty local governments in the state, Adedayo pointed out, was further compounded by refusal of the governor to release 10% statutory share from Internally Generated Revenue,IGR granted them by the constitution.
The hypocrisy and cowardice displayed by the remaining 19 local government chairmen in the state when on Wednesday August 30 they went and prostrated before governor Abiodun is a sad development in the state which had never known good and responsive government in the last twenty years.
That Honourable Emilola Gazal,Chairmen of Association of local government chairmen in the state refused to address issues raised by Adedayo with facts and figures but merely prostrated for forgiveness by the governor on behalf of one of them who broke the ranks shows that President Buhari was right afterall in saying that local government chairmen themselves aided and abetted the greedy governors in signing for money they never received.
Then you ask yourself, are the local government chairmen who were equally elected by their locals responsible to their electors or to the governors ?
Are they mindful of the charge Buhari gave to them in 2022 that they should be ready to account for money allocated to them through FAAC but taken through the back door by the greedy governors.
Why are the chairmen in a hurry to absolve the governor hours before his statement denying Adedayos grave allegations late on Wednesday August 30 after the legislators begging ‘dobale’ trip to government house.
You also ask why they apologise profusely before the governor with their leader throwing decency and caution to the wind by saying,”we have come to beg you as a father that you are a father of all in the state. We want you to forgive us”.
If one may ask forgiveness for what?
Does it mean that the Governors later claim that he has never diverted funds as claimed by Adedayo is true even when no proper and detail account of how such funds were disbursed has been given till date.
If so, it means in effect that the local government chairmen has answers to provide as to why development has been stunted in all the twenty local government under them.
Of what use have they put all the money they claimed they have received contrary to Adedayos claims?
As a follow up, the state governor also has a duty to publish detailed disbursement of monthly federal allocation to the local government ..at least to disprove Adedayos claim.
It may also help to put Adedayo in the defensive if indeed Governor Abiodun was disbursing the funds.
Isn’t it strange that barely twenty four hours after the chairmen ‘begged’ the governor, some councillors in Ijebu East gathered and suspended Adedayo for what they described as misappropriation of four million naira council funds and other abuse of office.
The funds they claimed was used to organise Isese Day- the traditional religion worship in the council area.
Should Adedayos boldness and revelation be the tonic needed by the ‘rebel’ councillors to betray their leader for purely political relevance and gains from the Emperor which the governor has proved to be?
By prostrating and begging the governor without demanding for a thorough inquisition of funds which they knew never got to them,the chairmen has made a monster and dictator out of the governor and killed democracy in the state and abandon those who voted them to power.
The attitude and open betrayal of one of their own by the chairmen in the state, is a reflection of what transpires in all the remaining 773 local governments in the country where governors have reduced the LGs to appendages and errand boys who owe their nomination and by inference performance to the ‘Emperor’ governors.
Akeem Amballi, national President of National Union of Local Government Employees,NULGE said the  body will continue to call for local government autonomy.
 Nevertheless,he expressed the view that the fact that “over the years, the EFCC has conducted a series of investigations into former governors some of who had been imprisoned over the years points to the gross funds diversion pointed out by Buhari and now echoed by Adedayo who have since been questioned by the Department of state Services DSS perhaps for security reasons since his boldness  is unheard of in the country. How many council chairmen does that and gets away. Does it mean Adedayos boldness stems from his not being part of sharing LG proceeds with the governor?
The question now is, for how long will the local government chairmen continue to behave like the chicks complaining that it’s mother did not allow it to feed outside not knowing that the mother is merely preventing it from death..”a ngba Omo adie lowo iku,o ni won ko je ki Ohun lol Akitan lo je”.
It is apparent that the local government chairmen most of who has no second address, are being characteristically hypocritical for fear of losing face and relevant in the face of the governors who have become our modern day dictator with obvious disregard for the constitution and impunity in governance.
By inference, the Ogun council chairmen have betrayed the confidence reposed on them by the people who elected them into office like they did governors. In other words,unknown to Adedayo,his colleagues are culpable of seizure of the council funds having so behave to gratiate the governor.
But an undettered Adedayo declared that his suspension and abandonement by his colleagues would not divert his attention from pursuing Probity in the state.
As somebody who is not unknown to courting controversy but prefer  fighting within the system,he appears prepared for a long battle and in the process risking all his political goodwill from the governor in the face of apparent culpability of his colleague chairmen and politicians who has by far surrendered their independence for pecuniary and temporal gains thereby making a dictator of the governor .
That governor Abiodun can come arround to explain that a sum of N1.8bn of council funds have been used to provide infrastructures in the state is also by inference an admittance of Adedayos diversion allegation.
Since Internally generated revenues,are sourced from all the twenty local governments,it is curious why the governor has refused to allow development of projects at local level be handled by chairmen who truly know the priority needs of their areas. Why identifying and executing projects for them if not for filthy gains by the governors.
Since he has appropriated the powers of the councils who obviously by last week’s ‘dobale’politics have wittingly surrendered their independence for temporal pecuniary gains, dictatorship of the worst order have enveloped the party since he remains the party leader in the state .
As for proponents of playing game of political survival since governors ‘own’ the parties,begging him to forgive one of their own for asking questions is both a clear evidence of class political suicide as they have lost any relevance in power game in the state.
This is so especially since the people at the local governments are all beneficiaries of the inept state government which greediness has crippled the local micro economy.
Should local councils be allowed to identify and award government contracts in their councils,it is apparent such contract will be given local contractors with funds percolating down the councils territory with it’s multiplier effects on the micro economy.
It is quite apparent that in spite of whatever shortcomings he has,Adedayo has made himself a sacrificial lamb by threading where his co -politicians and local government chairmen failed to thread.
That a state like Ogun which has produced eminent statesmen like Chief Obafemi Awolowo,Simeon Adebo,Wole Soyinka,Moshood Abiola and lately Olusegun Obasanjo is suffering from gross mis-governance is quite unfortunate at this period in the nations history .
People of Ogun state has an opportunity to change the narration by electing  leaders at all levels who embrace intergrity, accountability and probity- factors which are crucial to arrest the gross underdevelopment of a state with it’s huge potential.
With it’s   closeness to Lagos, lack of vision by successive state governors in the past twenty years to develop the border areas with Lagos and it’s effect on the states revenue generating potential  remains a puzzle.
Thus it mean the successive governors lack business sense as it  has refused to widen it’s revenue base tapped for the benefit of it’s citizens.
As at 2012,Lagos state was dispensing an average of N500 million monthly to Ogun state as verifiable deductable tax being paid by employees living in it’s border with Ogun. What percentage of this money has successive governments in the state been using to develop the border areas brimming with millions of people?
There is no gain saying the fact that intergrity, accountability and fairness has taken flight in Ogun state in the last twenty years of Democratic rule and only a fundamental political surgery by residents of the state could produce visionary and selfless leaders who has development of the state at heart and not playing politics and self enrichment.
It is apparent and a fact that apart from Ifo town which has a grossly ill -equiped hospital,no single state hospital abound in the over 32 kilometre stretch of Ijoko to Ojodu Berger boundary with Lagos.
On education,  the very few public schools are gloried study centres comparable to what obtains in Lagos before the late Lateef Jakande government change the course of the state history and successive governments toe his path.
The state of the road in that area of the state is probably the worst you can get in any part of the country while successive governments pretend that all is well .
Legislators who got elected from this area from councillors to Senators look the other way while they show up next electoral cycle to ask for votes.
Ogun people have to exorcise itself from grip of greedy and selfish politicians who lack the capacity to provide good governance both by their pedigree and the people they appoint to assist them in ruling the state.
The narrative Must change if Ogun state must develop.
Enough of brazen impunity.
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