Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State on Tuesday said a total of N14.2 billion was paid out by his government in less than two weeks before the end of December 2016.
Aregbesola stated this when the State Government opened the year with supplications as the Governor led Muslim and Christian faithful at an interdenominational thanksgiving session at the Government Secretariat, Osogbo.
Aregbesola, who laced his speech with songs of praises to God in Islamic and Christian ways, said with what befell the state before the close of 2015, it was gratifying that the state bounced back in what can now be felt as relief from the hardship of last year.
He said the ability of his government to pay workers salaries from September, October, November and December in less than a record two weeks was a huge relief.
The governor said it was in September 2014 that he had to call on workers to decide whether they wanted a staff reduction or payment of salaries according to available resources when the impact of the economic hardship in the country began to biter harder.
He said in July 2015, the new Federal Government, which had been sworn in May 2015, listened to some of the solutions proffered to the national revenue crisis.
Aregbesola said when the state got N34.9 billion bailout loan in 2015, there were controversies on how to disburse the funds when some people insisted that the whole funds should be spent all at once.
“But I knew that with the magnitude of the economic crisis facing Nigeria, it would have been suicidal to expend the whole bailout loan at once without saving a portion of it, which eventually bailed us out till around February this year,” Aregbesola said.
The governor recalled that this was what made necessary the constitution of the state’s Revenue Apportionment Committee headed by labour veteran, Comrade Hassan Sunmonu, which he said made it possible for the state to pay salaries till February of 2016.
Aregbesola said the arrival of the Paris Club deductions refunds, which made N11.7 billion available to the state, has brought some relief, noting that the state would however need to intensify its efforts towards self-sustenance.
“We are grateful that our hardships are getting over, giving us indications that the new year would be better,” he added.
The governor, while expressing appreciation to workers who showed understanding, appealed to those who have not shown signs of understanding the trends.
He added: “LAUTECH lecturers have insisted they would not cooperate with the government despite their knowledge of the economic conditions we face.
“We appeal to them to accept our fate at the moment for the sake of the students’ future.”
Aregbesola expressed optimism that by June this year, there are signs that the recession would come to an end.
While appealing to all stakeholders to look inward, Aregbesola charged traditional rulers promote agriculture in their respective domain just as he appealed to them to engage in vigorous campaigns for payment of taxes.
He added: “We want to engage massively in agriculture.
“We want to aggressively grow cassava, maize, plantain, rice, soya beans and the existing cocoa, which our people are already growing.
“It is now clear that whoever is looking for free things will wait for ever.
“It’s certain that oil price can no longer return to its old rates and free money won’t come again. If we don’t want to continue to suffer this lack, farming is the only venture we must embark on.”
Aregbesola assured the people that the government would give financial aides to those interested in farming.
The governor also hinted that by February 1 this year, his government would enforce the use of the standard measures and scales for all commercial transactions as part of efforts to make commerce attractive in Osun State.
“Whoever fails to use Osunwon Omoluabi will face the consequences,” he said.
The Head of Service Sunday Owoeye, in his speech saluted the courage and commitment of the Osun State workforce.
Owoeye, who said revenue generation should be a major focus of the workers in the new year, revealed the workers have shown commitment.
He said: “I wish to acknowledge the sacrifice and endurance of Public Servants in the State in these trying times we are passing through.
“We have proved to the whole world our resilience in the face of unanticipated challenges such that when the going gets tough, the tough gets going!
“Whenever the history of the State will be written in future and the achievements of this sparkling Aregbesola Administration are enumerated, the indomitable and altruistic spirit with which the Public Servants weathered the current storms shall definitely occupy a conspicuous space!
“I wish to charge every public servant to continue to support this administration in its drive towards self-sufficiency by being more proactive in revenue generation.
“The largest room in the world is the room for improvement and the road to success is always under construction ad infinitum!”
In his sermon, Dr. Isiaka Lawal of the College of Education, Ilesa, advised civil servants to abide by the rules of their engagements noting that leakages of officially classified documents, no matter for what reason, contradicts civil service rules.
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