The Senate Committee on State and Local Government Administration has commended the Governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, for what it called his transparency and accountability in the management of the N17.3bn Federal Government bailout for the payment of salaries and wages.
The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Abdullahi Gumel, who led other members on oversight assignment to investigate the disbursement of the bailout granted to the state, gave the commendation at the end of the team’s fact-finding exercise, in Ibadan, on Tuesday.
After scrutinizing the state’s financial records, he said that the committee members were impressed by the judicious manner the fund was expended, hence he said he had no hesitation in giving the state a clean bill of health.
The committee members, including Senators Hammed Ogembe, Obinna Ogba and Mustapha Bintube, had earlier met with the state’s economic team, led by the Commissioner for Finance and Budget, Mr. Abimbola Adekanmbi, to undertake a review of the financial records.
At the end of the exercise, Gumel gave the state a pass mark but advised on the need for the adoption of pragmatic measures to eliminate redundant workers from the payroll in order to reduce what he called the state’s huge wage bill.
“We have seen the presentation by the ministry of finance and I can tell you without mincing words that the state’s finance is well organized as far as the bailout fund is concerned. We have made suggestions as far as salaries and wages are concerned. We can see that the state government did not joke with the payment of salaries. The bailout fund was strictly expended for the purpose it was given. We got all the cooperation needed and had frank discussions with the state officials and we are satisfied, “One additional thing we have suggested during the presentation, as we could see the huge wage bill you have in the state, is that we want you to put machinery in motion to eliminate ghost workers and redundancy so as to have a very moderate workforce to drive your developmental and change agenda.”
Gumel said that judging by the state’s probity and adherence to the directive by FG that the fund should be used to clear the backlog of salaries and wages, he would entertain no fear to recommend Oyo State for future financial intervention programmes.
On his part, the governor said that the oversight exercise embarked upon by the committee was a step in the right direction, which, he said, was a wake-up call to leaders to embrace openness, sincerity and accountability.
Ajimobi applauded what he called the empathetic initiative of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress administration, which he said had cushioned the effect of the recession on the workforce at the time it was given.
He added that it was noteworthy that Buhari’s anti-corruption crusade had helped to change the battered image of the country in the comity of nations and should be supported by all and sundry.
“This call for probity is a reflection of the present administration’s love for renewal of true African values. We are happy that the committee found our books to be clean and that we did the needful by using the intervention fund strictly for payment of salaries and other wages.
We wish you a safe trip back to Abuja and hope you do more in uplifting our nation through progressive legislation.”