Council chairmen in Ogun State are facing protests from the electorates who are asking them to account for the statutory allocations received in the last two years.
This is coming after Governor Dapo Abiodun was absolved of diversion of local government funds as alleged by the ousted chairman of Ijebu East Local Government, Wale Adedayo.
Daily Trust Saturday reports that the electorates in the state are shining a spotlight on their council chairmen, who were elected into office in July, 2021.
Governor Abiodun, at their swearing in ceremony, had asked all the 20 chairmen to provide the needed development and ensure prosperity for the people at the grassroots.
“Local government is not just a tier of government as enshrined in our country’s 1999 constitution, as amended, it is the closest to the people and so much is expected from you. Therefore, your assumption of office must bring a new vista of development to our people at the grassroots.
“In doing this, you must be inclusive, transparent, accountable, fair and equitable. And you must obey the rule of law, provide good governance and be judicious,” Abiodun had said.
But more than two years later, one of the 20 local government chairmen, Wale Adedayo, also known as Babalawo, of Ijebu East Local Government, recently accused Governor Abiodun of stampeding the chairmen.
“Since we (local government chairmen) got on board in 2021, it has been zero federal allocation to each local government,” Adedayo alleged in a letter addressed to a former governor, Aremo Olusegun Osoba.
Adedayo, a veteran journalist, asked Osoba to urgently wade in and convince Abiodun to allow “the statutory federal allocation to local governments in Ogun State to be allowed to reach each of them as envisaged by the 1999 Constitution.”
The council boss also alleged that the trend of denying local governments their due federal allocations in the state began during the administration of former Governor Ibikunle Amosun.
“As it is happening today, it was based on a spurious claim of helping some local governments that may not be able to fulfill their obligations to the people because of financial challenges,” he stated.
In a separate petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), Adedayo sought for the urgent intervention of the anti-graft agencies into the matter.
In the petition, Adedayo also accused the governor of denying the local government chairmen of ecological funds and other entitlements due to them.
“Revenue sources, which the local governments should benefit from, have mostly been taken over by the state government. Motor parks and attendant dues which should go to each local government are being centrally managed by the state government.
“Also, primary school administration and control have been taken over. There are many other issues,” he stated.
The ensuing drama
Adedayo’s allegations unsettled Abiodun’s government, who perhaps has not recovered from the knocks and controversies it has generated within the state and even nationwide.
The governor, in a statement by his chief press secretary, Lekan Adeniran, denied the allegations, noting that his administration often had to augment the funds allocated to local governments in the state from the Federation Account to enable them meet their financial obligations.
The governor’s economic team, led by Dapo Okubadejo, the chief economic adviser, also engaged journalists in the state in a bid to address the controversy.
The team said the Abiodun administration had augmented councils’ allocations with N33.25billion in the last four years to enable them meet their obligations.
Okunbadejo said monthly allocations from the Federation Account was not even enough to pay salaries of primary school teachers, local government staff, pensions, gratuities and other frontline charges, adding that the state had been supporting local councils with additional funds to make up for the shortfall.
The apology twist
The controversy, however, assumed a comical dimension when the council chairmen, led by the state chairman of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), Babatunde Emilola-Gazal, stormed Governor Abiodun’s office, prostrated and begged him for forgiveness over Adedayo’s ‘sin.’ And Adedayo, who is in centre of the controversy, was in attendance.
A viral clip of the meeting showed the state chairman of ALGON begging for forgiveness on behalf of his colleagues, particularly, Adedayo.
“Your Excellency, if you don’t forgive us, who do we run to? So, on behalf of all of us, I am tendering this apology, and in particular, Wale Adedayo,” Emilola-Gazal said.
Three days after the allegations dominated the media space, the tide turned against Adedayo as seven councilors from his local government, allegedly being influenced by the state government, announced his suspension.
According to them, 15 allegations were levelled against the chairman, including maladministration and financial mismanagement.
And shortly after his suspension, the governor’s accuser landed in the custody of the State Security Service (SSS), Ogun command, where he was detained and grilled for three days over an alleged incitement against the government.
“They claimed there was a letter from the governor that I was making inciting comments against the state government, but I told them that there was nothing like that and asked to know who they said I had incited,” Adedayo told newsmen after he was released.
Exactly two weeks after his suspension was announced, Adedayo was impeached by five out 11 councillors.
His impeachment was announced shortly after he appeared before the Legislative Council at the secretariat in Ogbere.
A statement signed by Fasheyi Akindele, the leader of Ijebu East Legislative Council, noted that after Adedayo’s impeachment motion was put forward, five
councillors voted in support, four against, while one abstained.
According to the statement, Adedayo owned up to all the allegations against him when he appeared before the Legislative Council, including, “That the chairman has run foul of the laws of the land, specifically the Ogun State Local Government Laws 2006 and committed serious impeachable offences.”
The statement further noted, “After about three hours of deliberation, the impeachment of the chairman was put to vote. Five councillors voted in support of his impeachment, four voted against it, while one abstained.
“The leader of the House pronounced Mr Wale Adedayo impeached as the chairman of Ijebu East Local Government.”
But Adedayo told Daily Trust Saturday that he did not own up to anything.
“They were going to set up a committee, which was expected to look at the files in the office. But after I left, things changed,” he said.
Our correspondent reports that he is already in court to challenge the process.
Daily Trust Saturday also reports that two council chairmen have so far received an ultimatum to give account of the allocations they received in the last two years.
Apart from Adedayo who alleged zero allocations, other chairmen said allocations had been coming.
Emilola-Gazal, who led other council chairmen to Abiodun’s office, absolved the governor of zero allocations to local governments.
Meanwhile, things took a new turn when residents of Ijebu Ode Local Government Area asked Emilola-Gazal to account for the allocations received by the council in the last two years.
Daily Trust Saturday saw a notice by “Concerned Citizens” seeking an enquiry into the council’s statutory allocations from Emilola-Gazal.
According to the flyers, he was given a 48-hour ultimatum to account for the funds or risk massive protest.
The notice reads, “Gazal must go. Explain to the Ijebus what you have done with the collected federal allocations, according to your claim. You are hereby given 48 hours to furnish the Ijebus of how you spent the allocations. Failing to do this will lead to protest within the local government by ‘concerned citizens’.”
Describing the notice as sponsored he said, “Giving an account is the easiest thing for me to do, but nobody should give me an ultimatum. When it is time we shall come out and explain things.
“But let me say that this has been orchestrated by some persons within the local government.”
Also, indigenes of Yewa North Local Government Area have asked their chairman, Oluwole Ogunyomi, to account for the statutory allocations he has received from the state and federal governments since he assumed office in 2021.
The indigenes, under the aegis of Yewa North Patriotic Forum, in an open letter to the chairman, gave him 48 hours to give an account of how he has been managing the council funds.
In an open letter signed by Damilola Elegbede, vice president II, Yewa North Patriotic Forum, the indigenes recalled that Ogunyomi and his colleagues debunked Adedayo’s allegations and also prostrated to beg the governor.
They said he should explain how he had been spending the funds he received monthly from Abuja since it had been confirmed that Governor Abiodun did not seize council funds.
“If the 48-hour notice for our response is not complied with, we shall mobilise the good people of the local government to your office in a peaceful protest,” part of the letter reads.
Ogunyomi, however, promised that he would reply the group as soon as possible, asking for time to gather the financial information needed.
It was also gathered that similar protests were being planned against the chairmen of other local government areas.