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OGUN OWES N22BN, SAYS SPEAKER

By NBF News

Amidst attempts by the Ogun State House of Assembly to begin the process of approving the controversial bond request of the state government, the Speaker, Hon. Tunji Egbetokun has put the debt profile of the state at a whooping N22 billion.

He made the disclosure during an interview with journalists last Saturday while expressing the readiness of the House to approve the controversial N100 million bond which the state government had been praying for.

Already, the leadership of the House had instructed its Finance and Appropriation Committee to start preliminary works on the approval of the financial instrument.

Egbetokun, who gave procedure for the approval of the bond said the controversial debt profile of the state had been disclosed.

His words: ''Now that the controversial debt profile of the state has been disclosed, the House would now invite relevant agencies of the state government and representatives of commercial banks and financial houses to verify the sources of the credit facilities before the final approval is granted.

Egbetokun who added that the State Governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, had supplied all the required details, especially, the projects the bond would be used for, stressed that the lawmakers had no objection to the approval of the bond. His words: 'We have said this all along that the bond issue is not personal or political. There is a need to ensure that all procedures follow due process. While we tried to ensure that, some people said we are trying to stifle the process of governance. Now that the governor has supplied the House with the required information, we have no choice than to consider the bond on its merit.

'He has written to the Assembly to outline the details of the projects the bond will be used for. We are not opposed to the development of the state but there is a need to ensure that there are checks and balances. So, we have instructed the Finance and Appropriation Committee to begin the consideration of the bond preparatory to the presentation of the document in our plenary.'

He explained further that the House was scheduled to begin sittings on the bond penultimate Tuesday, when some protesters, led by the Secretary to the Local Government, Abeokuta South, Mr. Nurudeen Olaleye, stormed the premises of the assembly with fetish objects.

'We were supposed to resume deliberations on the approval of the bond the day some people said they were protesting, carrying juju to the House and throwing eggs. We had to call-off the sitting over security concerns and when normalcy is restored and the security of members guaranteed, we will begin sitting but that does not stop the work of the committee,' he said.

'Like I said earlier, this approval will follow due process. The governor has fulfilled part of the requirements by furnishing us with relevant information; we now need to go ahead and verify various claims and then we can approve the bond. It is not true that the Governor wrote a personal letter to me; that letter was addressed to the Speaker of the Ogun State House of Assembly, not to Tunji Egbetokun. So, the House will do what is just as representatives of the people,' he concluded.

END.