On Saturday 11th of June 2016, an English interview was held with The Executive Governor of Oyo State; Senator Abiola Ajimobi at the studio of Splash Fm 1055; the first private radio station in the ancient city of Ibadan. The Yoruba version which took place the previous day anchored by legendary Abolade Salami and Adebayo Faleke of Fresh FM 1059 interpreted by Tope Edward. The Governor clearing the controversy about “sale” of public primary and secondary schools in the state among many other issues. Here is the interview as culled from a video on Splash FM facebook page:
See the full video here:
What is the cause of dispute between Oyo State workers and the government?
I believe it all started because of money. When I first assumed office, I paid them 13th month salary, provided car loans, increased salaries from N52,000 to N165,000, raised pension by 142%, I was praised and called friend of Mekunu. All these happened when Oyo State had money; now that we are broke and the state can’t afford it then workers are angry.
Did you order the arrest of Oyo NLC leaders?
I am the CSO of this state as The Governor, if i see anybody destroying government property and disturbing public peace then such person should be arrested. I won’t shy away from it, i called the police.
What are we going to do about this situation?
Anywhere in the world, one sure problem solver is dialogue. NLC should come for dialogue and settle all doubts, that’s all we asked of them.
Have you established The Office of PPP and what are their roles?
Oyo State Public Private Partnership office brings investors to Ibadan and the whole state, they build relationship between the government and private sectors. This body is to make sure government does not do everything, private firms can contribute to development of state like road and education as it is done worldwide.
When will public secondary and primary schools be re-opened?
Once we have a dialogue with Oyo NLC, whenever they promise us not to use pupils to destroy government property, whenever they promise not to teach our students thuggery then we will open schools.
Can Oyo State government publish how the funds gotten from the imposition of school levy were utilized?
We expected over one billion naira from the one thousand naira levy fee but till now we got only six hundred million which we have not touched at all, still intact as we speak. It is for rehabilitation which will begin during long vacation.
What about the six months’ salary the Oyo State Government owes?
Both IGR and Federal Allocation is just 50% of 5.2billion that the government needs to pay workers’ salaries and it’s not logical to even give them all this 50%, we have other project to attend to. We decided that only FG allocation should be used, 100% of the allocation and obviously it’s not enough so we gave them three options which are: 1. Let’s lay off 50% of workers total number, we actually need just 30% to keep ministries running; 2. Let’s pay only junior staff because their money is not much, we can afford to pay them all; 3. Let’s cut all workers pay into half. You won’t believe my Oyo State workers disagree.
Will you say that the state is helpless?
I will say the state is going through difficulties and needs to re-adjust. Part of it is this salary issue and public school partnership which they totally kick against.
The names of commissioners have been sent to the House Of Assembly, is there money in Oyo State’s purse to run offices of commissioners at this point?
I was using Special Advisers/Assistants instead of these Commissioners to save ridiculous expenses, very effective SAs that have been working voluntarily for 12 months without any payment but people are complaining it’s against The Constitution not to have Commissioners. Now that names of fifteen instead of the usual twenty three have been sent for approval you are all saying we want to waste money on political appointments, that I do not really need commissioners. Honestly, I am confused.
Earlier this year you said Local Government elections will be conducted by June this year, we are in June and no election yet?
When i was giving speech in January and I said LG election is in June, it was clearly a plan; an assumption which is prone to change. There will still be LG election definitely; the change is just the said time.
How is the Government tackling unemployment in Oyo State?
We just introduced an initiative called #AgricOyo which will benefit over one million graduates. We will train them with the help of big and reputable farm companies on how to produce agricultural products. We already have companies that wrote to us, willing to buy all our farm produce.
What will happen to pupils that are unable to pay for school fees in these private public schools?
The partnership we proposed is not for them to make money but to give us money, there won’t be any school fees. It is the same levy paid by pupils in other public schools that will be paid in those schools too, we will regulate all activities and that’s why I said we are not selling public schools.
The N84bn given to Oyo State by The Federal Government in the past one year, how was it spent?
All was spent to pay workers and don’t be shocked if I tell you it’s not enough. The mistake people are making is comparing Oyo State with other states, we are about ten million in population and that’s twice their number in Bayelsa State that their federal allocation is much more yet their workers agreed to collect half salary till things get back to normal.
Is the Government aware of the earth tremor in Saki?
Of course we are aware of the earth tremor that happened recently in Saki. The Ministry of Environment is working on it so it won’t cause bigger trouble. This Ministry has partnered with World Bank to achieve a lot of projects, we just have to be calm and wait for it.