Ogun State Association of Local Government Chairmen, Chaired by the Chairman of Ijebu-Ode LG, Emilola Gazal, led other members to tender their unreserved apology to Governor Dapo Abiodun over the recent comment made by one of them, Mr. Wale Adedayo.
The meeting took place at the Governor’s office in Oke-Mosan during which the Local government chairmen denied the allegation that the state government had been diverting their funds, resulting in zero allocation to them.
This is even as Governor Abiodun said he was disturbed by the baseless allegation against him.
The council chairmen visited the governor on Tuesday night with Mr Wale Adedayo, the Chairman of Ijebu East Local Government, who made the allegation, to tender an unreserved apology, as they accepted that mistakes had been made.
Speaking at the meeting in his office at Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, attended by 18 out of the 20 chairmen, Governor Abiodun expressed surprise at the allegation, noting that rather than starving the local governments, he has made several interventions on their behalf to lessen their burden.
Prince Abiodun said he has always been supportive of the councils because they are an integral part in the march towards the development of the state.
He said: “Where there is no information, there is misinformation. When I read in the news media yesterday that I Adedapo Abiodun, the privileged Executive Governor of this State for the second term, is being accused of diverting funds meant for a local government. I say to myself perhaps it must be another Adedapo Abiodun and not me.
“God knows that this job, I am doing it with every iota of sincerity of purpose. I continue to ensure that I am guided by all the promises I made in the course of my journey to the governor’s office. I continue to remind myself that I am holding this public office in trust as a trustee for and on behalf of all sons and daughters of this state and I will continue to be dogged, irrevocably committed to developing every part of this state equitably and fairly.
I will continue to respect that besides the state government, there is also another tier and we are charged with the responsibility of building the future of this State.
“So, I began to wonder how could anyone possibly begin to imagine that I would divert funds meant for another tier of government when my party, the APC, had formed government 100 per cent in that tier particularly. It is not as if I am trying to punish some council chairmen who are not in my party. State government and local government are all one family.”
He said his administration worked tirelessly to ensure the emergence of the council bosses and therefore could not engage in any act that could retard development at the grassroots.
He also disclosed that he, along with two other governors had impressed it on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to help with separate intervention funds for the local governments.
“I know what I committed to ensuring that we are all successful when you were contesting either at the primary level or at the general elections. So how will I be able to explain to my conscience that having done all that, having vowed, having pledged, having been committed to the development of this State, as evidenced across the length and breadth, how would I justify stifling the local government?
“I know what myself and two other governors advanced before our president in the last two weeks about the need for the Federal Government to provide separate interventions just for the local government. So naturally, I have been taken aback,” Abiodun said.
The governor acknowledged the place of disagreement in human relationships but added that there should be roundtable discussions to find solutions to any vexed issues instead of resulting in misrepresentation and character assassination.
“Our preoccupation should be to continue to join hands together to build the future of this great state. I restate my commitment to ensuring that your tier of government is given all the support that you need to make the best of the opportunity that your people gave you. As you will be entering the last few months of your administration, it will be a joy and delight to ensure that you all have legacies that define your tenure in office,” the governor assured.
Speaking earlier, the Chairman of Ijebu-Ode Local Government, who also doubles as the Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON) Chairman in the state, Hon. Emilola Gazal, told the governor that the visit was to acknowledge the mistakes that were made and to beg for forgiveness.
Gazal acknowledged that the governor had at no time interfered in the distribution and sharing of local government funds from the federation account.
According to him, as the leader, the governor was bound to be insulted, but he must forgive and forget.
He said that the governor has been passionate about the development of the state, adding that no previous administration can claim the same success recorded across the state in the last four years.
The chairmen also acknowledged that in May, N4.5bn was shared by the 20 local governments. In June, N4.4bn was shared, while July also saw the sharing of N4.4bn. In August, N5.2bn was shared.
They also confirmed that during the COVID-19 pandemic, the governor was augmenting their allocation to the tune of N1bn monthly.
The chairmen admitted that because of insufficient funds from the federation accounts, they have been unable to pay the mandatory Pay As You Earn (PAYE) to the state, and as a result, they are owning the state, several billion.
Speaking in an interview later, Gazal said all the grey areas in the contending issue have been resolved, adding that the meeting with the state officials provided the chairmen the opportunity to get a briefing on what the state government has been doing to ensure smooth running of the council areas.
He said: “We are here to see the governor to discuss the grey areas and today, all sides are better off. We have seen the lighter sides of the grey areas and all those issues have been resolved amicably. The governor has assured us that local government will continue to witness development till the end of his tenure.”