An elder statesman Pa Nurdin Bakare, has expressed worry over the direction which desperate politicking is taking the state. He expressed a level of appreciation for the efforts of the present government, and while he strongly opined that more could still be done, he decried the spate of desperate politicking that threatens the peace that has since been achieved in the state.
Speaking while fielding questions from journalists about the state of governance in the state, Bakare warned politicians within the state to stop “polluting the polity with half-truths and true lies” which are potent enough to “kill the peace” that was recently restored to the state.
“I am from Oritamerin here in Ibadan, and as a proud elder who plies a path of progressive good, I have sworn to always stand behind the growth of my state, irrespective of party or style of politics. And, this is why I do not suscribe to heating up the polity with unfounded statements that can destroy our accord, and take us back to the dark days of violence in this state.
“This present government is trying, you should know there is so much more that can be done, but, what now worries me is something any true elder should see and correct. Back in our own days, politicians went after facts while trying to outwit each other in the process of playing the game, but nowadays, politicians are too desperate to either snatch or hold on to power, without weighing effects of such moves. They are basically playing politics with the lives of people”, Bakare opined.
While prodded by our reporter for specifics that formed his worries, Pa Bakare highlighted recent talking points within the state, and decried how politicians, especially the opposition, have handled some of these issues without facts, reiterating how insensitive and inciting such politically-motivated remarks can be.
He said, “For example, look at that Olubadan review issue. It is sad that we are almost making ourselves a laughing stock in the comity of states, especially here in the Southwest. That matter is too clear to be misconstrued and misrepresented by the opposition. Just too clear. Do you know that this Declaration review was actually a mutual idea between the Olubadan-in-council and the state government, and that it has been attempted many times before by past governments? Yet, opposing politicians, without considering the overdue importance of expanding the functionality and structure of the Olubadan stool, went out into the streets to pollute the polity with propagandist half-truths, potent enough to incite the citizens for the very wrong reasons. It saddens my heart, and I’m really concerned”.
Bakare stated that responsible citizens do not thrive on hearsay about dealings within their state, rather, they seeks facts. However, he stressed that some people don’t really bother to know, and that instead of finding ways to rightly inform these second group of people, it was quite irresponsible that politicians plying the trade of desperation seek to always exploit such ignorance for personal political gains.
“Let me give you another example. When I heard about the issue of the debt profile of our state on radio recently, I knew the claim of a 150 billion naira debt profile sounded somehow high and unrealistic, especially considering the rate at which new developmental projects are either being commissioned or completed across our state through PPPs, government funds and other partnerships. But, I still sought true information in order to confirm my thoughts.
Pa Bakare went further, “See my dear, firstly, getting loans is acceptable practice in governance across the world, and anyone with basic understanding of public sector finance cannot just bandy figures around about the debt profile of a state that just set up an industrial park for example, and without listing components of such debt at that. It is a fact that government does not manufacture monies, and that there are three levels of fulfilling any state’s budgetary obligation, and these are FAAC allocation, Internally Generated Revenue, grants or loans.
“You want to know what I did next? I approached the information desk at our state’s finance ministry that works with the Debt Management Office. Yes, every tax-paying citizen possesses that right to know, if ever in doubt. So, I got to know that the so-called debt is millions shy of 50 billion naira, and not the unrealistic figure claimed by an opposing politician on live radio. I even got to know that only about 10% of this amount was used on developmental projects, while a bulk of it was used to pay gratuities and monies owed in arrears by previous governments in our state. The files and EFCC cases are right there, indicting past governments of mismanagement in this regard”, Bakare added.
He went further saying, “It was clear and confirmed that this present government had executed developmental projects, managed to pay salaries and gratuities, both past and present, and ran the state’s affairs by legitimately obtaining bonds, grants and loans but not beyond her means. In fact, I got to know that the present government had managed to increase our state’s monthly IGR from the 800 million mark from 2011, to an average 1.5 billion, despite enduring harsher fiscal conditions that was national in impact. So dear, you would imagine my bemusement at that 150 billion naira claim and why someone would want to put such unfounded remark out there, without considering its polarising effect it could have on the people. This isn’t right in any way possible”.
He stressed that the present government has justified the reasons why the people gave them a second-term, judging by what he called “foundation laying for a modern Oyo state”; he therefore asked that the opposition should administer criticism in the right way that helps any government, including the incumbent, to sit tight enough to achieve even more.
Putting it succinctly, “I advise the politicians, especially the ones in opposition in Oyo state, to stop this trend, anything that poses a threat to our peace is dangerous and should be stopped. Instead of inciting the polity with remarks borne out of desperation, they must play the role of true opposition by being factual and objectively critical, not otherwise. As I said above, responsible citizens have a right to the right information and they should ask questions if ever in doubt. That’s what I did regarding the debt issue for example, and I was duly informed”, Pa Bakare surmised.