The media battle over the retrieval of official cars from past political office holders in Oyo State continues with the state government describing some past officials as “vultures in governance”.
Some of the past officials in the immediate Abiola Ajimobi-led government at a press conference in Ibadan had accused the incumbent government in Oyo State of embarking on a “deliberate smear campaign” against them as they claimed that it was the “tradition” to take away government vehicles after a tour of duty in the state.
Recall that the former State Governor, his deputy, his wife, the former Secretary to the State Government were amongst those listeed to have allegedly inherited government vehicles at the close of the last tenure last May.
But Governor Seyi Makinde in a statement by his spokesman, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, said: “Let us make it abundantly clear that there is no iota of truth in the claims by the former Commissioners and officials of the immediate past government.
“The Government of Engineer Seyi Makinde had sworn itself to a commitment to probity and accountability. The Governor has also showcased himself as a practical believer in what he preaches by publicly declaring his assets. A measure that is far above the constitutional requirement in such matter.
“It should, therefore, be taken for granted that if the Governor can subject himself to public scrutiny that way he has done, he would not be a party to covering up any untoward act by anyone or group, be they his party loyalists or members of the opposition.
“It would be recalled that the incumbent Government in Oyo State issued an ultimatum to officials of the immediate past administration who illegally carted away government vehicles and other properties to return such or risk being reported to the security agencies.
“The decision was informed by the monumental impunity the new administration in the state has uncovered so far. Even on Inauguration Day, it was so bad that the inauguration committee had to scamper here and there to source vehicles for the new Governor and his deputy.
“As we speak, Governor Makinde and his deputy are compelled to rely on their personal vehicles for use as convoy cars in the discharge of their duties.The same is true of other government officials appointed so far.
“And that is despite the records which show that huge sums were expended on the purchase of new cars in the last year of the immediate past administration. Indeed, a number of such cars were purchased about three months to the end of that government.
“This government will not permit anyone to mix up facts in an attempt to defend a strange tradition of “vultures in governance” which is diametrically opposed to the Service Agenda of the Makinde administration.
“There is a clear difference when a vehicle is boarded and the appropriate amount paid. The records at the disposal of government clearly demarcate the illegally taken cars from the boarded vehicles.
“We also make bold to state that the officials charged with recovery of the said cars and the security operatives have so far been very civil in their procedures and no fewer than 19 cars have been recovered.
“Television cameras were on the toe of the officials who recovered the last set of five vehicles and those who took the cars away are well documented.
“There is no government instrument or law of the State House of Assembly that permits vehicles to be taken away “free of charge” or in the exercise of “discretionary powers” as shown in a memo elements of the past government secretly leaked in a bid to blackmail the incumbent government.
“Because the government in place in Oyo is all about probity, openness, and accountability, it will not condone attempts to seize public property or distribute them like a Father Christmas in the twilight of his trade.
“It is disheartening that some persons who have had the opportunity of serving our dear state, a state of Omoluabi would openly defend any absurdity or propensity to loot government property in a manner that debases the true Omoluabi culture that defines us here”.
Meanwhile, the State Governor has declared that critics of his style of open governance cannot distract his government from recording giant strides in the State.
The governor, made the declaration while speaking at the inauguration of the South West Chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the United Kingdom, adding that he was aware why there has been so much searchlight on his person and his administration.
He charged PDP Stakeholders to readily project the good deeds of the party’s office holders in order not to give room, for negative narrative.
Governor Makinde observed that interest groups in the United Kingdom had played important roles in the politics of Nigeria, noting that no fewer than 200,000 Nigerians now live in the United Kingdom.
He said that the task ahead of the PDP is to regroup and launch chapters everywhere Nigerians are found.
” I am aware of the enormity of the responsibility that rests on me. The searchlight is beamed upon me, and all my actions are being met with the strictest scrutiny. I know that it is the seeming controversial that will be given more attention. My open declaration of my assets is generating furore in certain quarters, but these are unnecessary distractions, my focus and the focus of our administration is on good governance. We shall not be distracted,” Makinde said.
He invited investors to Oyo state, declaring that his efforts so far have been geared towards ensuring that 400,000 out-of-school children were back in school; the expansion of the state’s economy; and promoting security.
“In the past month, I have focused on two things to set Oyo State on the path to greatness: Ensuring that we put the right policies and processes in place, and working with ideas that will help increase Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) in the state,” he said.
He stated that his focus on security was borne out of the fact that without security, businesses cannot thrive adding that he had given his commitment to enhancing security to the Commanders of the Task Force in charge of Oyo and Osun.
According to the Governor, the decision by the state government to cancel the N3, 000 school levy, and examination fees had resulted in the unprecedented huge turnout of students for placement examination into JSS1, and the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) conducted in the state last week.
The Governor also said that the commitment of the PDP towards strategizing for the future was not in doubt adding that members of the party must also be alive to their responsibilities.
His words: “The PDP has one job and one job only: regroup, refocus, re-strategise. Creating Chapters, everywhere in the world where Nigerians are found, shows our commitment to this job. I believe Nigerians have had the opportunity to see clearly which party really means business.
“I have one request to make of you: never stop talking about the good things we are doing. When good things are not given prominence, the consensus is that only bad things are happening. We cannot allow evil narratives about the PDP or its stakeholders to gain any type of momentum. It is our jobs as worthy ambassadors to shut down such narratives, quickly and definitively.”