Oyo SDP does not understand endowment fund concept – Govt
The Oyo state government has been accused of laying banana peels for the incoming administration, which “will be bogged down with huge debt burden that will hardly allow it settle down to govern”.
Last weekend, the state government admitted that the state’s debt profile stood at N115bn.
The Social Democratic Party (SDP) in a statement issued in Ibadan on Tuesday by its Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Akeem Azeez, described the soon-to-be-launched N50bn Health Endowment Fund project of the government as another “white elephant” project aimed at adding to the debt.
The government had said that the Health Endowment Fund, which will be launched next week, is targetted at revitalising the state’s health sector by upgrading existing secondary health facilities in the 33 LGAs and the primary care facilities in the 351 wards of the state as well as engaging of qualified medical personnel and taking care of health staff welfare, among others.
But the opposition in the state says the project as “a farce” and a political gimmick by the government to cover up for its mismanagement of funds that had already raised the state’s debt profile to N115bn.
The party said: ”We advise the state government not to begin another round of white elephant projects that will be abandoned midway, especially the much trumpeted N50b upgrade of over 600 health facilities in the state at the twilight of Second term of APC government is a farce and political gimmick . As far as we are concerned, it is a Greek gift that is dead-on-arrival”.
But in a reaction, the state Commissioner for Information, Toye Arulogun, stated that the SDP, by its perception of the health project, “does not understand the concept of an endowment fund”.
He said: “How does an Endowment fund translate into a white elephant project? The fund is not available with government? The N50bn figure is a target that the Ajimobi administration is aiming at in a funds drive to restore and transform infrastructure, equipment, supplies and human capital in the Oyo State Health Sector”.
According to the opposition party, the admission of the state government that it has a huge debt profile to the sum of N115bn has clearly marked it as being untrustworthy and lacking transparency in its handling of public funds entrusted to it.
The statement added: ”We have said a few months ago to those who cared to listen, that the debt profile of the state was about N115B at the time, but the state governor denied this vehemently.
”Even the state governor, Senator Ajimobi, on May 29, 2017, during the 6th year anniversary of his administration, publicly announced to the people of the state that its debt profile is a paltry N4 Billion”.
But in his reaction, Arulogun wondered: “How much more transparent can the Government be? This is the first Government that will hold a budget breakdown session with stakeholders. This is the first Government that the HCF will hold a ministerial press briefing (an event which your principal was present) so what is the basis of the accusation? Surely they were shocked that we admitted the figure. How much more trustworthy can the Government be? The fact is that they cannot fault the composition which the government has made public putting an end to the falsehood and unresearched campaign”.
He added: “Government has stated its position and put paid to the insinuation that the administration accumulated debt from borrowings. As stated by the Honourable Commissioner of Finance, 80% of the debt is composed of outstanding salaries, pensions and wage related payments inclusive of those predating the administration of Senator Abiola Ajimobi. What else is there to say?”