The Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, has denied tampering with funds belonging to the local government areas in the state.
Akeredolu stated this while reacting to the allegation by President Muhammadu Buhari that governors have been stealing local government funds.
Reacting to the allegation in a statement on Saturday by his media aide, Richard Olatunde, governor Akeredolu said his administration had not touched funds meant for local governments since its inception.
The governor asserted that monies meant for local governments are shared at their monthly Joint Account Allocation Committee, adding that local government chairmen have total freedom in the management of the funds.
The statement read in part, “As a matter of policy, monies meant for local governments are shared at their monthly Joint Account Allocation Committee. Mr Governor doesn’t touch local government funds. The local government chairmen can attest to the fact that they have total freedom in the management of their funds.
“The monthly FAAC receipts are devoted to the payment of salaries and pensions as agreed by labour leaders at the monthly meetings presided over by the Head of Service and Chairman of Joint Negotiating Council. Despite Governor Akeredolu’s vow to always pay salaries and pensions as and when due, the financial crisis across the country occasioned by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in non-payment of salaries in full for some months. As of January 2022, the government owed four months’ salary arrears as against the seven months inherited.
“Governor Akeredolu, having promised the civil servants in the state to prioritise payment of salaries, has continued to clear these backlogs of arrears. On three occasions this year, the government has paid double salaries in a month, thereby reducing the arrears. All salaries will be cleared before the year ends.
“If the amount expended on these infrastructural projects and payment of salary arrears is juxtaposed with the refunds, it is crystal clear that the monies were not mismanaged in Ondo State.
“The administration of Governor Akeredolu stands on the tripod of transparency, accountability, and integrity. We will continue to hoist the flag of transparency in governance while pursuing excellence in the journey to transform the state for the better.”
Governor Akeredolu also said his administration did receive 13 percent oil derivation, subsidy, and SURE-P refunds from the federation account in the last two years of 2021 and 2022.
Akeredolu explained that the refunds received from the Federal Government were judiciously expended on some key capital projects across the three senatorial districts of the state.
He added: “Some of the impactful projects undertaken and completed by this administration include the rehabilitation and asphalt overlay of the 32.6km Araromi-Alape road in Ilaje Local Government Area; 16.65km Ikaramu-Akunnu-chainnage 7-Oke Agbe Road in Akoko Northwest Local Government Area; 4.5km Agadagba Obon-New Ajapa Road in Ese-Odo Local Government Area; 3.0km Oke Igbo Township roads, Ile-Oluji/Okeigbo Local Government Area, among others,” the statement reads.
“Recently, the governor commenced the rehabilitation of over 35 kilometres of network of roads in Akure, the state capital. The roads being rehabilitated are the existing ones built by past governments several years ago and which are already in bad shape with potholes and failed sections. The 9.5km Emure- Iporo Road and rehabilitation of 15.2 Akure phase “D” networks have all begun.
“The 10km Okitipupa-Igbokoda virgin road, which will be commissioned by the Lagos state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, is another evidence of Governor Akeredolu’s commitment to infrastructural development. These intensive capital projects are financed from these refunds and Internally Generated Revenue.”