BOND: I WAS OFFERED N1BN BRIBE, SAYS OGUN SPEAKER
There was a dramatic twist to the quest by the Ogun State Government to access the capital market for N100 billion bond as the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Mr. Tunji Egbetokun, yesterday alleged that he had been offered about N1 billion on the issue. But in a swift reaction, the state government which spoke through the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Sina Kawonise during a press conference later in the day, urged the Speaker to mention the names of who or those that offered him the bribe.
His words: 'As a government, we don't do such a thing. To the best of my knowledge, I am not aware. In law, the man that alleges, should prove. He (Speaker) should mention names. If the Speaker was smart enough, he would have collected the money and do what Ribadu did. It is not an issue before us. The government will not be part of such a shady thing''
Egbetokun spoke in his capacity as the Chairman of the Committee of the whole House at the Committee Room of the House yesterday.
Said he: ''I have been offered about a billion naira on this bond issue at a single meeting. I am not very rich, but I am very comfortable. The easiest way to end this bond issue is through a public debate which should be aired on a state-owned television station.
He further disclosed that the offer was made by one of the 'peace-brokers' at a meeting on this bond issue.' However, he failed to disclose the name of the ''peace broker'' as well as the venue of the purported meeting.
On the supplementary budget presented by the state government, Egbetokun said it was ''brought in dead or dead on arrival'' before the House.
According to him, the easiest way to end the contentious bond issue is through a public debate and contended that the moment the executive arm is able to convince them on the projects they wanted to expend the bond on.
He also dispelled the allegation that they were being used or manipulated by external forces. 'We are not being controlled or remoted by external forces. The moment they are able to convince us, we will go into the plenary and passed the bond.'
Speaking against his critics and the perception of some people on the issue of bond, Egbetokun added that the House was not in anyway playing politics with the lives of the people of the state by not approving it.
The Speaker said only N32 billion had been expended out of the N88,089 billion approved by the House in the 2010 budget at the end of the first and second quarters of the year.
According to the lawmaker, the executive had claimed that over N50 billion were still unspent in the budget and urged the executive to realign the budget where necessary.
The Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Finance and Appropriation , Mr. Job Akintan, representing the Yewa North, said some ministries, agencies and parastatals had not spent up to a quarter of the money appropriated to them and that such money should be spent on other areas of need.
He also acknowledged the fact that the committee was confronted with a lot of constraints despite the fact that the executive had supplied them with information believed to be needed for necessary action to take place.
'Said he: 'That all the projects listed to be financed or re-financed through the bond had already been listed in the 2010 budget. There do exist projects that money had been expended on and some projects that have been financed through federal allocation. They need to further clarify these issues and they should tell us what they are getting from Sagamu and Owode Yewa International markets and stadium.
In their submissions, the Deputy Speaker, Pastor Remmy Hassan, Mrs. Adijat Adeleye Oladapo and Mr. Johnson Olu Fatoku said what they were doing was in the overall interest of the state.
Fatoki said: 'If we had requested N50 m to facilitate easy passage of this bond, this government will have provided it. What we are doing now is for posterity and government should desist form misinforming the public.
On the invitation by the House that the executive arm of government should participate in a public debate, Kawonise asked rhetorically how many states in the federation had subjected herself to such a shenanigans?
'The Honourable House is playing politics, denying the obvious. The issue of the bond is what the Federal Government takes on everyday. In Lagos, Bayelsa and others that had in recent times took bond, there was no public hearing. Let us do things that will bring respect and honour to us.'
'There is no basis for something that is settled. There is no basis for debate on bond. The executive arm of government has called them. The lie that has been told before could not be sustained that what's happening,' he said.
'The government of Ogun will not be part of turning serious issues to paralysis and shenanigans. We will not part of mockery of the state. Whatever the agenda or truth they are denying, it is their own. We will leave the people of the state to them.
'Like the governor has said, the incoming Assembly will approve the bond if the current Assembly refused to approve it. There is no sound argument that will convince a deaf. They have their own agenda. They want to kill the PDP.
Three months before Asiwaju Bola Tinubu left office, he still drew from the capital market.
'We will not drag down government to that gutter level. Government will not be part of . If the House was sincere, they had opportunities to have come forward to state their argument. It is childish, no serious government should be part of that.
''It is insulting the intelligence of the good people of Ogun State,
We will not be part of this shenanigans. It is ridiculous that this government will be part of such a thing. They don't even have the capacity there. The government believes in dialogue, debates, but not in insulting the good people of Ogun State,' Kawonise concluded