Image result for aregbesola at the ministerial screening

The Performance
of the immediate past governor of Osun State, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola was put in
contest at the red chamber when he appeared for the ministerial nomination yesterday
specifically on the issues surrounding non-payment of Osun state workers salaries.
Responding,
the former Osun state governor first reacted by reeling out the achievements of his administration
he said; “I must hasten to add that I and my administration faced lots
criticisms while in government, partly due to
ignorance and partly due to mischief. One interesting topic of
misrepresentation is salary and pensions payment. Yet, while many states were
unable to pay a penny to workers for many months, it was never so in Osun.

“What we did was to
devise a method of modulated salary and pension’s payment by which the most
vulnerable workers earned their full pay.
This applied to workers
on Levels 1-7, who accounted for about 72 per cent of the workforce. Those on
Levels 8-12 earned 75 per cent of their salary and pensions, while only those
on Levels 13-17 earned 50 per cent.
“I am happy to say that
from July 2018, we commenced the payment of full salaries and pension to all
workers before I left the office and the practise continues till today. In eight
years, we received a total gross allocation plus IGR of N332,928,683,766.46, of
which we paid salaries, pensions and gratuities worth N209,375,950,193.71
representing 62.9 per cent of our total earnings on personnel cost alone.”
Senator Elisha Abbo
Cliff, on his own, told his colleagues
how Aregbesola once gave him his entire salary for a month to contest an
election and therefore called on the lawmakers to “allow this non-tribalistic,
honest Nigerian to take a bow and go.”
On the overall Performance
evaluation of President Mohammadu Buhari regarding infrastructure to which had in attendance, the
former Minister, Babatunde Fashola as work, power and housing minister and as current ministerial nominee before the lawmakers yesterday  came under close scrutiny as he appeared
before the red chamber.
Lawmakers claimed that
the inability of the government to bring any projects to completion during the
period, despite a huge budgetary allocation for critical infrastructure needs
Senators Francis Alimikhena and
Adamu Aliero noted that “year in, year out,” there was no project commissioning
by Fashola. They, therefore, wondered what difference he would bring on board if
President Muhammadu Buhari deploys him to the same ministry.
Former Imo State Governor Rochas
Okorocha complained bitterly about the performance of the Electricity
Distribution Companies (DISCOS). He described their emergence as a “political
roundabout,” saying serious measures must be taken to address the problems of
electricity distribution in the country.
In his submission, former Gombe
State Governor Danjuma Goje declared that road projects in the last administration were “perpetually ongoing” even when expectations were high that
some would soon be commissioned. Also, Mrs Oluremi Tinubu (APC, Lagos
Central), the wife of All Progressives Congress (APC) national leader, Bola
Tinubu, shocked lawmakers when she disclosed that her constituency was not
carried along by the Works, Power and Housing Ministry in the last four years.
She decried the lack of access to
Fashola to secure employment opportunities for members of her constituency in
the ministry. “I want you to put that in your agenda for the second term that
we all need slots for employment for our constituents,” Tinubu appealed. Despite
the nation’s N24.9 trillion debt, Fashola suggested that another N10 trillion
should be borrowed to fund the infrastructural needs, to which Senate President
Ahmad Lawan replied: “Borrowing is
an option. But is there a way to get another complementary means of solving the
problem of infrastructure?”Fashola stated that the funding gap in the budgetary
allocation was responsible for the non-completion of the litany of projects
across the country. According to him, the ministry had to make do with about 50
per cent budget. The challenge, he explained, is evidenced in the deficit
incurred yearly.
The former Lagos State governor
recalled his earlier suggestion to the Senate for innovative funding like
Sukuk, which provided N100 billion to fund road projects across the six
geopolitical zones in 2018. He said a possible funding opportunity for critical
infrastructure could be accessed from Sukuk or a slight variation of its kind.
“I think there is some opportunity,
and I made this presentation during the last 2019 budget presentation that one
of the ways, I think, is to expand instruments like Sukuk.“Maybe it won’t be
Sukuk this time but I think Nigeria can seek to leverage from the large pool of
funds, with the ordinary people looking for secure investments. Some of them
are not even in the banking sector.
“I propose that we should consider
something like a N10 trillion infrastructure bond backed by parliamentary
support and secured by the Federal Government with a reasonable coupon issued
in tranches each year, as we need to fund infrastructure.”
Fashola also said such expansion of
the funding vehicle should be “broken up into even very small denominations
that people can invest as much as only N1,000. And those who want to invest in
billions can do so.“In my view, if we don’t try this, we wouldn’t know whether
it has worked. But I am convinced that we can do something along this line,
based on the interest that I saw in Sukuk. In the N100 billion Sukuk for
example, there were about 286 investors and the instrument was oversubscribed,
which meant there was an appetite for it.”
Former Deputy Senate President Ike
Ekweremadu noted: “As it is today, it is going to be difficult for us to
achieve our maximum expectation in the road sector by yearly appropriation. We
can use the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) option to fast-track the process and the private sector involved.”
But Fashola argued: “PPPs are
complex. They take time to negotiate. Even here, in the Federal Government, we
need to go through the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC)
to advertise. In a government that has four years to show results and in a
country where there are high expectations for results, we must be more skilful
on how we use them.”He explained further: “Let me also say that PPPs are not
attractive for all projects. I have learned to distinguish between social
projects like roads and commercial projects like airports and hospitals where
there is a daily cash count. Those are easier for private investors to want to
put their money into, than roads and the risk of construction.

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