Controversy Trails Gov. Amosun’s N1.5bn Severance Packages Offer, Denial Of Councilors’ Benefits

Controversy Trails Gov. Amosun’s N1.5bn Severance Packages Offer, Denial Of Councilors’ Benefits
By Patrick Aigbokhan
A scenario that seemed like a promise fulfilled from Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun state to some political officers in the state has turned a controversy staring the governor in the eyes as issues of severance packages owed the officers under his administration now become questionable.
Findings have revealed that about 236 officers who served under the administration of Amosun as Ward councilors are yet to be paid their severance packages, among other issues.
In spite of the ongoing, the desperate cry of the affected officers calling for swift intervention is yet to yield positive result.
The governor had at a point promised that he would make funds available to all past political appointees who served in the Otunba Gbenga Daniel administration between 2008 to 2011 and those who served under the first tenure of his (Amosun) administration without due benefits.
Governor Amosun estimated the total amount earmarked for payment of the severance packages of the political officers to the tune of N1.5 billion, but only a selected few actually had their fair share of the fund.
The governor had on Friday December 23, 2016 sent sms message to all the officers, informing them that cheques for severance allowance would be presented to past political appointees on Wednesday, December 28, 2016 at the Arcade Ground, Oke Mosan, Abeokuta by 11 am.  
The sms came from the governor about a year after a promise he made at a meeting he held with the political officers in the state on July 21, 2014 at the MTR Hall, Ibara Housing Estate Abeokuta. The purpose of the July 21 meeting was to console the political appointees over the loss of the governorship election to PDP in Ekiti state.
At the July 21, meeting, Amosun was said to have promised to compensate the officers with N2 million and a car each. He allegedly requested all councilors to submit one project each for their wards, which he promised to execute in their names. None of his promises however saw the light of day.
The text message read, “Sir/Ma, pls be informed that Severance Allowance Cheques for the past  political Appointees will be distributed on Wednesday, 28th December, 2016 at the Arcade Ground, Oke Mosan, Abeokuta by 11am.”
Following the December 23 sms, the Governor on December 28, assembled all commissioners of the state, as well as Senior Special Assistants, Special Assistants, Consultants, Councilors, among others at the Arcade Ground for a meeting that lasted about four hours for presentation of the cheques as promised. A great number of representatives from various media houses were also present to cover and report the event in their different media houses.
To the amazement of the much waited honorables, Amosu was said to have presented cheques to every other group present at the meeting, but churned out the councilors.
Those who benefitted from the cheque presentation were past political appointees who served in the Otunba Gbenga Daniel administration between 2008 to 2011 and those who served under the first tenure of the present administration in the state without due benefits.
After the cheque presentation, the governor was said to have tactically vacated the gathering under pretence that he was to attend briefly to an issue and return to the gathering to continue the cheque presentation.
After the governor’s disappearance at the event, other officials including the representatives of the different media houses were seen dolling out one after the other till the venue of became scanty.
All media outfits represented at the meeting allegedly went ahead to report in their various platforms that Governor Amosun had presented cheques of severance packages to all commissioners of the state, as well as Senior Special Assistants, Special Assistants, Consultants and Councilors.
Apart from the first eight months of his administration, Amosun was said to have denied the councilors their monthly allocation. Also, the N2.5 million project stipends for the councilors were withheld by the governor.
Other sources who lamented the state of Amosun’s administration system, said local governments in the state only exist, but not functioning.
According to sources close to the government, councilors in the state do not have a regular salary scheme, but the governor only placed them on a N184, 000 monthly salary package each.
The state’s House of Assembly was said to have made an intervention move, but the house committee members on the matter were made to keep mute by the government with the power of money.
It was gathered that, in a period of three years in service, none of the councilors enjoyed leave, recess, among other benefits. There was no salary scheme that could be used to determine their leave and recess allowances.
It was reported that the governor, due to his irregular operations, gave council chairmen the room to exhibit their sharp practices.
Till date, nothing is said to have been done by the governor to resolve the issue, and no one could confront him.
Our investigations revealed that a great number of the affected councilors have been languishing under financial predicaments that require swift intervention.
Some of the affected councilors have for a while now being finding it difficult to foot their bills such as house rents, school fees of their children and well-fare of their dependants.
As critical as the situation is, some of the disgruntled councilors even find it difficult to mobilize themselves from one location to another as they scarcely find means of transportation.
A former councilor who confirmed the development told us that there are several other benefits being denied the councilors by the governor. This, he said, has affected them in several ways.
For instance, some of the affected councilors from Odeda, Ifo local governments, among others fell ill and could barely afford their hospital bills. This eventually led to the untimely death of the deceased. One of the cases was said to have occurred in December 2016.
One of the councilors who narrated his ordeal to our correspondent, said,
“It is only God that has been taking care of us and our family. To even pay house rent has become a problem for us now.
We have written letters to Governor Amosun and pleaded with him to come to our aid, but there hasn’t been any response till date.
We even went as far as writing the party leader to plead on our behalf, yet the governor did not respond.”
A source close to the government who responded to questions on whether the councilors have collectively offended the governor for him to have meted such ill-treatment on them, he said, “How can the councilors offend him? With all the sacrifices they have made for him, yet he has been holding on to their benefits. No salaries scale for three years in office; he has denied councilors of their statutory rights in office as councilors.
“What I believe is that, there is nothing in this life that has no end.
When you see Chief Olusegun Osoba now, you will call him a former governor, like wise Otunba Gbenga Daniel. And everybody in Ogun state talks about what happened during their administration. The same thing will happen to him also.
“The Paris Club fund he collected in December is there, what has he done with it? Now, another one is out, where are those funds going into?.”
It was alleged that Amosun’s elder brother, popularly known as ‘Alhaji Agba, has taken over a number of contracts and projects in Ogun state. He is said to have acquired several landed properties and other facilities in the state from the proceeds realized from all the major projects he has executed in the state.
When contacted for further explanation on the situation, Mr. Jide Ojuko, Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs declined response to our attempt to get his view.
Sources however revealed that the governor had instructed his officers not to make any comment relating to the issue.
All efforts to get the governor’s view of the situation proved abortive as calls forwarded to him were not responded to.
A text message was also sent to the governor, but no reply was given the message.