OYO STATE: THE ARREST OF ACCOUNTANT-GENERAL OVER N9 BILLION FRAUD IS A MOCKERY OF THE PURPORTED COMMITMENT OF ENGR. SEYI MAKINDE-LED GOVERNMENT TO TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY
SPN Challenges the Makinde-led Oyo State Government to subject the finances of the state to democratic control of a board comprising representatives of workers organizations, political parties, civil society organizations among others
The arrest of Alhaji Bello Gafar, the Oyo State Accountant-General, by the Economic Financial and Crime commission, EFCC, over an allegation of N9billion money laundering has continued to feature in national dailies for over 5 days now. There had also been media reports of some responses obviously triggered by this development.
Notably among these reports are the responses credited to both the Oyo State Chapter of People Democratic Party, PDP, and Oyo State Government which in the attempts to defend the Accountant-General, who is an appointee of the PDP-led Oyo State Government, falsely claimed that the arrest by the EFCC and attempts to investigate the allegation of N9billion money laundering is against the constitutional responsibility of the EFCC and that only the State House of Assembly has the power to investigate an allegation related to the finances of the state.
The other, and the most recent, of the responses is the editorial of Nigerian Tribune edition of Sunday, 6th of March, 2022. In this editorial there was a claim that the EFCC arrest of the Accountant-General is not in connection with the laundering of nine billion naira state fund but with the financial transactions made by Oyo State governments between 2014 and 2015.
As far as we are concerned in SPN all of these responses are just mere excuses conceived to discredit the arrest and ensure that the allegation is swept under the carpet. The SPN condemns and warns against any attempt to sweep the allegation under the carpet and calls on the EFCC to go ahead and ensure that a thorough investigation of the allegation is carried out with a view to ensure that all individuals connected to it are prosecuted while the public fund in question is recovered and committed for judicious use for the overall and collective needs of the people in the state.
Beyond this is to also note that the EFCC arrest of the Accountant-General is a mockery of the so called commitment to transparency and accountability of the Engr. Seyi Makinde-led government as claimed at the inception of its regime. It will be recalled that Engr. Seyi Makinde-led government while reading out its achievements in 100 days in office claimed that his government in demonstration of readiness to run a transparent and accountable government has set up a Due Process Office with an appointment of Mrs Tara Adefope as its Director General. The government even claimed it had transmitted to the Oyo state House of Assembly an executive bill called the financial crime commission bill to ensure transparency and accountability in both the public and private sector in the state. It also disclosed that it had inaugurated a 10-man committee to review contract awarded by Oyo state government between 2017 and 2019 to find out if public funds were allocated and utilized judiciously within the period in question.
Barely three years after all of these measures purportedly put in place, there has not been any visible improvement in the transparency and accountability in both the public sector in the state. Instead, the EFFC arrest of the Accountant-General suggests that it has been business as usual under Seyi Makinde-led government.
This is therefore a confirmation of our earlier suspicion that creation of the Due Process Office, the plan to set up state financial crime commission including the inauguration of contract review 10-man committee, was never for the purpose of any transparency or accountability but as a deliberate ploy to create jobs for PDP loyalists and political acolytes so that they can also be placed in a position where they begin to be entitled to the receipt of humongous salaries and allowance earned by political office holders and appointees. This position, which we maintained since Makinde-led government was a 100 days in office, couldn’t have been otherwise given the circumstance under which the government itself was formed.
It will be recalled that the electoral victory of Engr. Seyi Makinde was secured through an unholy coalition of many bourgeois political parties all in a bid to ensure that the discredited APC-led government did not succeed itself with a candidate from its party. It is natural that any government formed through this kind of circumstance will be placed under a pressure to ensure that all the candidates and bigwigs of the pro-capitalist political parties involved in the coalition are adequately compensated.
We decry the prevailing cases of corrupt practices in public offices and call for the arrest and prosecution of the culprit as well as recovery of the stolen money. However, it is our belief that no amount of proliferation of anti-corruption agencies is capable of fundamentally curbing the ugly menace. Therefore to begin to address the question of deepening corruption in government will require the need to ensure that all the public funds and resources are subjected to a collective ownership through a democratic control and management by the elected representatives of the working people themselves.
Take for instance, if the entire resources at the disposal of the state which include monthly allocation received from the federal government and internally generated revenue, IGR, are subjected to a democratic control and management of a committee or board that is made of elected representatives of workers organizations like NLC, TUC, NBA, ASUU, representative of political parties, civil society organizations, community organization and religious bodies, it will help to end the age-long regime of secrecy over the actual amount of fund that comes to the coffers of the state on monthly basis and also ensure that those fund no matter how little and limited are judiciously used on the areas of need of the people. This together with the use of well-equipped public works department or ministry of works which are democratically controlled by workers and community people, to execute projects as against the prevailing fraudulent contract system could make looting of public funds difficult.
This is because the SPN believes that security votes and contract system are fraudulent ways through which every government formed by any of the pro-capitalist parties often loot public resources. We hereby call for the scrapping of security votes which are a slush fund for the governor. Rather, there should be open appropriation and allocation to security which is open to democratic control of working people.
Again, we call on the Seyi Makinde-led government to end the regime of corrupt and costly contract system in the state and replace it with a workers and community democratically controlled public work programme under which the Ministry of Works will be equipped with adequate equipment, expertise and manpower to undertake mass public works like mass building of schools, hospitals, roads, mass housing, water-works, mass electrification, etc.
SPN Oyo State Secretary