One year of Ademola Adeleke/PDP-led government in Osun State: Nothing fundamental to show while much is expected.
27 November, 2023 marks one year of the current Ademola Adeleke/People’s Democratic Party (PDP)-led government of Osun State. Not a few people in the state felt a sigh of relief when Oyetola/APC government, which was synonymous with sadistic anti-worker and anti-poor policies, was ousted in the 16 July, 2022 governorship election. The twelve years of APC under Aregbesola and Oyetola from 2010 to 2022 represented a new height in terrible mismanagement, corruption and anti-people’s policies that made the previous, equally anti-poor PDP and AD governments looked like saints.
By the time the Oyetola government was ousted, the APC government was owing workers and retirees over 30 months of salary and pension arrears, years of unpaid gratuities, promotion arrears, leave bonuses, etc. Aside salaries, the government continued the profligate legacy of the Aregbesola government, by incurring new debts for inflated projects and outright looting. When the Oyetola government ended its reign, the state (through Aregbesola and Oyetola APC governments) was already indebted to the tune of over N331 billion. This is aside the N76 billion salaries and pension debts, as well as billions of contract debts. In specific instances of graft, the Oyetola government reportedly collected over N18 billion federal government bridge loan facility and spent a large percentage of it, after election and just few weeks before its exit. Also the government borrowed N2.7 billion bank loan to fund construction of flyover of less than 500 meters.
Added to all of these is the collapse of social services and infrastructure across the state. Public education remained comatose, while the healthcare sector was grossly underfunded and understaffed. Most roads, inter-township and intra-township, were in dilapidated state. Public water supply system was elusive. To add insult to injury, the spate of insecurity was high as government-backed shock-troopers and thugs dominated the society, unleashing terror on the people.
Recover the looted funds
Given the support offered the Adeleke regime by people of the state, there is a lot of expectations are on the new administration to improve the living conditions of the people of the state. However, a year into the Adeleke/PDP government, there seems to be no direction for resolving all the various challenges on ground. While the APC government left rot in governance, the PDP government obviously has no solution within the framework of capitalism. While the Adeleke government raised alarm over the looting of the state resources and huge indebtedness by the APC government, it looks like the government only wanted to use it to score political point rather than recovering the looted state funds.
If the government is serious about recovering the looted funds, it should set up a democratic and open probe committee comprising government officials, representatives of workers, retirees, relevant professional groups, etc., while a task force for recovery will subsequently be established to recover the identified loots. But can the Adeleke government undertake this task, when stalwarts of its party are also salivating for their own ‘juicy’ opportunity.
The Salary and Pension Grandstanding
The Adeleke government has prided itself as a promoter of workers’ and retirees’ welfare; yet this mere grandstanding. It is not actually a detour from the past. For instance, in the last one year of Adeleke administration, only two (2) months payment, out of 30-month arrears of half-salary and half-pension owed workers and government retirees inherited from the previous government have been paid. Also, majority of government retirees on contributory pensions, especially those who retired from 2017 to 2023, have not received their pensions, including their own contributions; and thus have been subjected to excruciating poverty.
Also, retirees on government enrolment, who retired between 2012 and 2023, have not received a single tranche of their gratuities under the current administration. Yet, payment of outstanding salaries, pensions and gratuities was a cardinal campaign promise of the Ademola Adeleke/PDP for which it was voted into office. Rather than pay the arrears of salaries and pension, the government was enriching its private consultant under the guise of conducting staff and retiree audit. This put the workers and retirees in unwarranted discomfort.
The argument of lack of funds is not tenable given that the same government that complained of the fraudulent loans and contracts that put the state in huge indebtedness is still repaying the loans with interests. Besides, the allocations to the state governments from the federation accounts have been increased in the last five months following the removal of petrol subsidy and devaluation of naira – two of the anti-poor policies of Tinubu government which have compounded the cost of living crisis for working masses and the poor. The government could have simply demanded moratorium on the loan repayment on the ground that the government is auditing the loans and contracts for which the loans were procured. This would have given government time and resources to address workers’ welfare and embark on serious projects, while also having time to recover the looted state funds. But the PDP government will hardly go this route because it has the same primitive, capitalist approach to governance just as its APC counterpart.
Worse still, the government has been wasteful in its approach to public finance. For example, the same state government that has not undertaken any serious employment programme especially in the critical sectors such as education, healthcare, public works, etc. appointed countless number of political hangers-on who do nothing than feed fat on the resources of the state. The recent media revelation about government’s wasteful expenditure where billions of naira of state funds were used for servicing political office holders underscores the pro-capitalist and prebendal character of the Adeleke government.
Education, Health, Infrastructure receive little attention
However, beyond the workers’ and retirees’ entitlements for which the government has fraudulently scored itself high, there is nothing to show for the one year in office. Social service sectors are in deplorable state. For instance, public primary and secondary schools are still in the terrible conditions the previous administrations of Aregbesola and Oyetola left them, while state-owned tertiary institutions are still underfunded. The recent report on the dilapidated state of schools built by Aregbesola administration tells much about the Adeleke government. Rather than face up to the task of funding the tertiary institutions, the state government is getting enmeshed in leadership tussle in the state owned polytechnic in Iree. Public health institutions from primary to tertiary level are still underfunded and in deplorable conditions. Rather than improve on the quality of the facilities and employ adequate number of medical and health workers, the government only organised a two-week free health mission!
Throughout the state, public potable water supply has remained elusive despite the state having at least two water treatment plants. While a handful of intra-township roads are being constructed, albeit under the corruption-prone contract system, majority of inter-township (for instance, Ife-Sekona-Osogbo and Ife-Ilesa roads) and intra-township roads are still in terrible conditions. The recent promise of the state government to spend N100 billion to construct 42 roads remains unclear, as the source of funding and details have not been revealed. However, given the wasteful character currently displayed by the Adeleke government, it is safe to conclude that a significant portion of the sum will end up in private pockets, unless the working people, youth and community people collectively organise to monitor how the funds are used.
Consequent upon the above, we in the DSM contend that the Adeleke administration has no excuse not to meet the demands of the people of the state. Therefore, we call on the people of the state including workers, artisans, peasants, market women and men, youth, retirees and community people to demand an end to wasteful expenditure by the Adeleke administration in Osun State. They should demand, among other things:
- Immediate payment of all arrears of salaries, pensions and gratuities the government owes all categories of workers and retirees
- Immediate increase in salaries of workers and pensions of retirees
- A significant increase in fund allocations, by at least 100 percent, to public primary and secondary schools, tertiary educational institutions and public hospitals (primary, secondary and tertiary). This should help to expand facilities and employ more hands
- Massive funding of mass public works programmes that is capable of leading to expansion of water supply infrastructures; expansion of intra- and inter-township roads, building of schools, hospitals, etc. These works programmes should be carried out through ministry of works, as an alternative to the contract system through which huge sums are usually siphoned from government covers
- Democratic monitoring committees on all projects and funds by elected, non-salaried representatives of workers and communities where the projects are being implemented and funds allocated
Finally, we call on trade unions and civil society organisations in the state to live up to their responsibilities by defending the interests of workers, retirees and the poor in the state. We also call on workers in the state to reclaim their unions from the moribund and pro-government leadership.
Ultimately, only a revolutionary government that is based on socialist programmes at state and national levels can implement genuine pro-people policies that will liberate them economically, socially and politically.
Alfred Adegoke Kola Ibrahim
State Coordinator State Secretary