The relationship between Mr. Ibikunle Amosun, governor of Ogun State, and the state legislature has become badly fractured over the refusal of the House to approve the governor’s request to borrow a N65 billion loan.
Legislative sources told SaharaReporters on Wednesday that the Speaker of the Ogun State House of Assembly, Mr. Suraj Adekunbi, had, on Sunday, sent a text message inviting the legislators to a meeting with the governor at 2 PM on Monday.
The text message urged the lawmakers to be punctual in their arrival for the meeting because the issues for discussion were very crucial. It, however, failed to give a specific agenda for the meeting.
But as the legislators found out the meeting, which lasted from 2PM to 6PM at the governor’s office in Abeokuta, there was only one agenda: A fresh request for a N65 billion loan, for which he needs the approval of the House.
With the knowledge that Mr. Amosun recently accessed a bailout of about N20 billion from the federal government, the request for an approval to borrow again came to the legislators as a shock, which was clearly conveyed to the governor.
Sources at the meeting said Mr. Amosun invented a variety of pretexts in a bid to persuade the legislators to approve his request. While speaking, the governor unknowingly gave the game away. Multiple sources at the meeting told SaharaReporters that Mr. Amosun said if he gets the loan and completes the projects he started, which are at various stages of abandonment, “all the people running around that they want to be governor will run away."
It immediately became clear to the lawmakers that the loan for which approval was being sought would be used as a war chest for the 2019 general elections.
Opposition members in the House were said to have immediately registered their disapproval of the use for which the loan is to be put as well as Mr. Amosun’s treatment of members of the House.
A legislator was said to have gotten up and, in no roundabout way, told the governor that he has been selfish. The lawmaker, said a source, told Mr. Amosun that he has been taking care of his own interests, while neglecting the welfare of the House members.
Also in attendance at the meeting was Mr. Tolu Odebiyi, Chief of Staff to the governor, who is being widely touted as Mr. Amosun’s anointed successor. He was said to have kept quiet, as the legislators rounded on his boss. Even when asked if he had anything to say, said sources, Mr. Odebiyi shook his head to indicate that he did not want to speak.
Angered by Monday’s events, the lawmakers, on Tuesday, shunned the House session despite being persuaded by the Speaker to sit. Later on Tuesday, sources disclosed to SaharaReporters, the Speaker informed his colleagues that Mr. Amosun had sent N1 million to each member. This was, however, rejected, as the legislators told the Speaker that they wanted N5 million each.
“Before he was given the bailout, he promised us N10 million naira each. We believed him because it was during Ramadan and he was fasting, but he did not keep to his word. He brought one million naira for each of us. We can never trust him again,” one of the lawmakers confided in SaharaReporters.
The lawmaker also disclosed that Mr. Amosun was behind the campaign against the N100 billion bond that his predecessor, Mr. Gbenga Daniel, attempted, without success, to obtain. The legislator said the governor is looking worse than his predecessor in his debt wish for the state.
He equally disclosed that Mr. Amosun presented the loan he is seeking as counterpart funding for a project, saying it implies that he may obtain as much as N650 billion in loans.
Under the current Speaker, the House has approved for Mr. Amosun a variety of loans. These included N25 billion from First Bank, N15 billion from Guaranty Trust Bank, another N7.5 billion from Guaranty Trust Bank, N40 billion from Prada Marcedo, a Brazilian financial institution, N2 billion from the Bank of Agriculture, N1 billion naira from Federal Mortgage Bank, N20 billion in bailout funds and N50 billion from the capital market.
SaharaReporters cannot independently confirm, as at the time of filing this report, if the N50 billion from the capital market has been accessed.