The Oyo State government on Monday, declared that the immediate past governor of the state, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, misrepresented facts as regards the vehicles taken away by officials of his administration.
Ajimobi had, while speaking to newsmen on the occasion of this year’s Eid-el-Kabir celebration, described the alarm raised by Governor Seyi Makinde over missing government vehicles, as a “minor issue,” adding that his aides paid for the vehicles they took away.
“We took the decision that anybody using vehicles at the time should take it away and pay,” Ajimobi had said. “This is also practised by the federal and other state governments.”
“When I got to office, I didn’t see any vehicle. My brother, former Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala, took his vehicles away and I did not talk,” he added.
“There are civil servants who steal whenever politicians are leaving government. Let them go and check those civil servants,” he said.
The ex-governor also accused some civil servants of theft, saying: “There are civil servants who steal whenever politicians are leaving government. Let them go and check those civil servants.”
But a statement by the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Makinde, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, indicated that the former governor mixed up the facts of the matter.
“There should be no ambiguity about this issue of missing or stolen cars.
“The alarm raised by the government of Engineer Seyi Makinde on the unprecedented looting of official vehicles has nothing to do with cars that were legally sold or boarded to the different officials of the past administration.
“The vehicles we are concerned about are official cars carted away without legal instruments.
“Contrary to the statement of former Governor Ajimobi, many of the vehicles carted away illegally are new and in working conditions.
“You cannot possibly classify a vehicle procured in February of this year as an old car just a few months after it was purchased.”
The statement added that the state government has no issue with vehicles properly boarded by past officials.
It indicated that issues were raised on vehicles given out by the past administration as “parting gifts.”
The statement further added that the illegally taken away vehicles were not paid for by those involved.
“That is why a number of the vehicles have so far been retrieved.
“We must put on record that taking away government property is really a sad development in the annals of public accountability,” the statement read.
The statement added: “This government frowns on any attempt to justify illegality. The government has sworn to always do what is right and so cannot ignore such misrepresentations.
“The first thing to say is that many of the vehicles were not boarded by officials of the past administration, but were taken away without payment.
“There is nowhere in the public service that a governor is allowed to gift public property to cronies like a Santa Claus.
“If the former governor claims that it happens elsewhere, that cannot be a justification. This government is determined to ensure that every kobo of taxpayers will be accounted for.
“We also restate our commitment to ensuring that all the vehicles illegally taken away are recovered.
“So far, we are impressed by the work of the committee saddled with the recovery of the assets illegally taken.
“The Committee will continue to have the full backing of government,” the statement said.
The statement also condemned what it described as “another attempt by the former governor to brand civil servants as ‘thieves,” adding that such branding is unhelpful.
“We are not amused by the branding of our civil servants as “thieves” by the former governor, but we are much worried about what he did to reform the system while in power.”