“If thinking and reason crack under the pressure of emotional convulsions, or when commissioned facts are the result of lies and fabricated constructions, truth may be in grave danger,” Erik Pevernagie warns.
The above quote is about a man named Balogun Ibrahim. Ibrahim, in a poorly written opinion post titled “Emperor Dapo Abiodun and Wale Adedayo,” trampled on truth and fact, throwing caution to the wind. It is pretty clear from his bad treatise that he wrote out of ignorance and emotion. He lingered on a topic or issue about which he knew almost nothing.
When half-baked, poorly educated, ill-informed critics like him become the primary source of information for the public, society is in grave danger.
Balogun’s tainted view of events in Ogun State is pitiful. He hinted to a redirected financial allocation and the establishment of a “Emperor.”
What he and some other commentators failed to understand is that, contrary to what the suspended Chairman of Ijebu East Local Government, Mr. Wale Adedayo, claimed, there has never been zero allocation to the 20 local governments in Ogun State. The Ogun State Government does not withhold or divert funds from the federation account designated for local governments. Separate accounts are maintained by the two branches of government. The Joint Account Allocation Committee (JAAC) is in charge of allocating funds to local governments. Members of this committee are recruited from all stakeholders in local government administration, including traditional rulers, ALGON, NULGE, NUT, SUBEB, pensioners, and others, with representatives from all 20 local governments obligated to attend.
The governor has no access to the funds in the account. First Line Charges are deducted from this account to pay council employees, primary school teachers, healthcare personnel, and local government pensioners. According to statistics, since 2019, allocations from the federation account to local governments have been insufficient to satisfy the First Line Charges, necessitating the state government supplementing these allocations by more than N17 billion each month.
The state government has also provided funding to local governments to assist them carry out various projects. In 2021, Ijebu East Local Government received N1.547 billion from the state government. The council received N1.955 billion in 2022, while it has received N1.257 billion since August. This is in addition to the JAAC’s payment of staff salaries, teacher salaries, gratuities, and pensions.
Is it feasible that Adedayo had a reason for writing a letter that is clearly fraudulent and a denial of the genuine situation in Ogun State’s 20 local governments? Why write a letter now, after working at the office for two and a half years? If Mr. Adedayo had a problem with revenue allocation to his local government, did he use the internal conflict resolution system in his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), or the government of which he is a member? Was there ever a moment when he used his friendship with Governor Dapo Abiodun to get an audience with him on the subject if he was so worried about his people?
Giving local governments autonomy as the third tier of government is a contentious issue across the country. It’s a debate that’s not going away anytime soon. However, Ogun State is among the first to enact a financial autonomy laws. This is intended to provide local governments with the resources they need to fulfill their responsibilities to the people.
Apparently, calling Prince Abiodun a ‘Emperor’ is the result of the visit of the local government chairmen last Tuesday, in order to seek reconciliation. The chairman had previously met with state government officials. After seeing the books, they were confident that no money was missing from their account. The council chairmen prostrated for the governor on their visit to the governor following the first meeting, as is customary in Yoruba culture. As the Chairman of the state ALGON, Mr. Babatunde Emilola Gazal, was speaking, this was a spontaneous reaction. It was never a request or a requirement. It was an acknowledgment that a mistake had been made and that atonement was required.
It is also in Prince Abiodun’s childish fantasy that Balogun and his ilk have reduced the state’s other organs of government to robots. This is yet another example of a man devoid of critical thinking, appraisal, and evaluation. In a democracy, how can you be an emperor? A democratic regime, no matter how flawed, can never develop authoritarian tendencies. Apart from being a team player, as evidenced by the retinue of aides surrounding him, Prince Abiodun has ensured that Ogun has been one of the most politically stable states in the country since 2019. He has never had a disagreement with a state legislator. He never meddled with the election of the Speaker of the House of Assembly or other key officials. As a result, the legislative branch now works in tandem with the executive. The judiciary is as active as it has always been. Governor Abiodun has never attempted to silence this most powerful branch of government. He has never meddled in the administration of municipal governments. Since assuming office, elections have been held on time. Adedayo was elected chairman in the 2021 election.
Since 2019, there has not been a single occurrence of politically motivated killing, attempted assassination, or political suppression in Ogun State, which was common in previous years.
Much has also been made of Governor Abiodun’s visit to the Department of State Service (DSS) Office. This was a well-planned visit ahead of whatever happened on the day. The governor arrived at the DSS with a big entourage, including members of the press, to examine a construction project. Everything was done out in the open. There was no meeting behind closed doors. Following the inspection, the governor addressed the press, and the entourage quickly drove away.
Finally, whatever actions the Councillors of Ijebu East Local Government took must have been legal. Fortunately, the chairman was not impeached. He was suspended as a result of publicized allegations. Thankfully, the suspended chairman has stated that he will defend himself against the claims.
Nigerians, in the mold of Balogun, should learn to avoid emotion in public debates and instead rely on rationality.
Adeniran is Governor Dapo Abiodun’s Chief Press Secretary.