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BOND: OGUN FAULTS VC'S LETTER TO ASSEMBLY

By NBF News
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The Ogun State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Sina Kawonise, has described the view of the Vice-Chancellor, Crescent University, Aboekuta, Prof. Sherifdeen Tella, that it is 'ridiculous' to take bond to pay the state's N22bn debt as one borne out of ignorance.

Kawonise, who spoke with our correspondent in Abeokuta on Tuesday, specifically likened Tella's submission on the contentious bond as a 'motor park economic proposition.'

According to the information commissioner, who was a lecturer alongside the VC at the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, the professor's position on the bond has cast 'serious doubt' on his competence in financial management matters.

The commissioner's outburst came on the heels of the publication of a letter written to the Ogun State House of Assembly by the vice-chancellor, where he argued that the decision of the state to raise N50bn through the issuance of a bond, did not make a sound economic judgment.

Tella, who described the logic to take the bond to offset the state's debt as ridiculous, believed all loans should be geared towards investments that would bring in higher revenues to the coffers of the government, urging the lawmakers to ascertain how the previous loans had been utilised.

Kawonise, however, argued that such position could only have been informed by the level of ignorance of the vice-chancellor, who was once the Dean, Faculty of Social and Management Sciences, OOU, where he is on a leave of absence to head CU.

The commissioner said, 'You cannot describe him (Tella) as a renowned economist, he is an ordinary economist.

'He should be the only one to think that one cannot borrow to pay another debt. It is simple arithmetic. If a loan with low interest rate is available and I owe a debt of high interest rate, what stops me from utilising the low interest loan to pay the debt with high interest rate? To me, his view is ill-informed; borne out of ignorance, and simply the view of a motor park economist.'

Kawonise denied that he and the Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Kehinde Sogunle, summoned Tella to appear before them on Sunday in connection with the VC's letter to the Assembly.

Meanwhile, the VC has absolved the proprietor of the institution, Prince Bola Ajibola, of any complicity in the letter he wrote to the Assembly, urging the House to weigh all options before acceding to the plans of the state government to raise N50bn through the issuance of a bond.

To demonstrate that Ajibola, a former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice of the Federation, did not have an input in the letter, where Tella urged the lawmakers to ascertain what earlier debts had been used for, the VC also apologised to the CU founder.

It was learnt that the state government had registered a protest with Ajibola, who is the Chairman, State Elders Consultative Forum, on what they believed was an interference of the economist in 'a purely political matter.'

Tella, in a letter, dated June 1, 2010, and addressed to the Speaker of the Assembly, Mr. Tunji Egbetokun, said the views expressed in the letter were personal and did not represent the position of the university.

The letter reads in part, 'I hereby declare, publicly, that my views on the above subject, expressed in a letter to the Speaker of the Ogun State House of Assembly on May 24, and which have generated untoward reactions from the state government, are entirely mine.

'I regret any embarrassment, inconvenience or anxiety that the letter might have caused His Excellency, Justice Bola Ajibola, in view of his position as an elder statesman, whose opinion is well regarded and respected in Nigeria and abroad.

'I wish to state categorically and abundantly that I never discussed the content of the said letter or any policies or activities of Ogun State or any other government for that matter with the Proprietor of the Crescent University, Abeokuta, His Excellency, Justice Bola Ajibola.'