Speaker of Osun State House of Assembly, Mr. Najeem Salaam has absolved Governor Rauf Aregbesola of any blame as regards the financial state of the State. He said there was nothing wrong in the governor’s borrowing to effect development in the state. He also blamed the administration of ex-president Goodluck Jonathan for the inability of the state to secure bank loans.
“Look, we should be careful not to make crime out of the zeal to serve because it is convenient for Aregbesola to pay salaries and flashes some substandard projects. But he chose to work and the opposition are talking,” Salaam told Vanguard in an interview.
“Tell me of any individual who intends to be great that would not incur debt. When I wanted to build my house, I took loan from a bank and I suffered to pay back. When an industrialist wants to establish an industry, he approaches a bank or consortium for fund. Then, what is the issue in approaching financial institutions to source for funds to finance public infrastructure? America with its might has a debt ceiling of over 17 trillion dollars. We have to be fair to ourselves when criticizing a government. Of course, it could have been a different ball game if the those monies were borrowed to finance consumption.
“It saddened me that we have to resort to borrowing to offset pension and salaries, but for the fact that the banks could not lend us for now as a result of vindictive directive given by the Jonathan administration, people are shouting that the state can not pay salaries,” he said.
Speaking on a petition filed by a serving judge in the state, before the House of Assembly alleging financial recklessness of the governor, Salaam said “We have more than one petition against the governor and we have inaugurated an investigative panel headed by my deputy, who is a lawyer, to work on the petitions.”
He explained why the committee set up was composed of members of the All Progressives Congress (APC), a development the minority leader raised objection to.
“Those who wrote the petitions knew that the House of Assembly under my watch is credible and they have faith in the process. Besides, it is my prerogative to constitute the committee. As the Speaker, I see all members as honourable men, but all of them could not be appointed into the committee. Moreso, ranking and experience count in legislative business. The chairman has been in the House for more than six years and he is very competent to head the committee. So, it is a committee that is carefully put together to serve the interest of the people. As for the minority leader, he is playing his role and does not have to agree with us on everything,” he said.
“Meanwhile, the report would be submitted to the House for debate and the minority leader will have his say on it, but if he is part of the committee, he would be barred as a matter of rule, to speak on it when the report is presented. So, he should know that we have done him a favour by reserving a room for him on the floor when the report is ready. I chose to toe that part to prevent tyranny of the majority.”