Former Osun Peoples Democratic Party, PDP gubernatorial candidate, Chief Iyiola Omisore, has asked Governor Rauf Aregbesola to account for the counterpart fund allegedly given to the state by the United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), for the construction of the $1.6 billion Olaiya-Jaleyemi-Asubiaro-Ita Olokan road.
In a statement issued on his behalf by Jide Fakorede, his media aide, Omisore said the claim by Osun state government that the road project was funded through the state’s Conservation Fund was deceitful.
“It is an open secret and matter in the domain of the public that Osun State government had assessed counterpart funds from UNESCO, which is in excess of over 70 per cent following the designation of Osun Osogbo groove by the world body as one of the World Heritage sites for local and international tourists.
“This is not new, the practical efforts, which climaxed in the attraction of such funds to Osun began during the regime of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). But, it is a statement of fact that Aregbesola received counterpart funds from UNESCO", Omisore, a former deputy governor of Osun State said.
He, however, failed to mention the amount allegedly collected from UNESCO for the road project by the Aregbesola government.
Omisore, added that PDP worked to ensure that Osun Osogbo Groove was declared a world heritage site, in order to attract the counterpart funding when it was in power in the state.
“While we would not assist Aregbesola and his dishonest government to disclose the actual amount received on the road project from the reputable international organization, for the purpose of creating unhindered access for all categories of tourists which he himself admitted publicly few years back, we leave him to ruminate over these sacred facts as a public figure in his innermost mind. Conscience isan open wound,” Omisore added.
But in response, Osun state government described Omisore’s accusations as tissues of lies.
Osun state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Lani Baderinwa said contrary to Omisore’s claims, the construction of the road was funded from the Omoluabi Infrastructure Conservation Fund.
“Governor Rauf Aregbesola had in March 2014 during the flag off of the road construction categorically declared that the fund for the commencement of construction of the road will be sourced from the Omoluabi Infrastructure Conservation Fund, with the help of the State House of Assembly.
“This is the reason behind the commendation of members of the House of Assembly by Governor Aregbesola during the commissioning of the Workers’ Drive on Tuesday. He appreciated their legislative role in the finance of the project.
“It is pitiable and ridiculous that somebody aspiring to rule the people of Osun cannot differentiate between the road leading to Osun Groove and the one that links the road that leads to the Groove. Omisore is likely to turn the progress march of Osun back if (and God will forbid that) he should mistakenly become Governor with his clear lack of basic knowledge of governance.
“UNESCO is not in any way involved in the finance of the project at all. It becomes imperative to state that rather than providing fund for the road, UNESCO had requested the government to re-work and change the course of the road that leads to Osun groove so as to retain its being a World Heritage Site. UNESCO made some other demands in this regard.
“As much as the government would not mind fulfilling the UNESCO requests, State Government of Osun does not have the financial wherewithal to so do now for obvious economic reasons. Besides, it is a known fact that UNESCO as an organization do not give money for any counterpart project funding; rather, such is given in kind and not in cash as the debased personality of the impeached Deputy governor would want the people to believe.
Apart from the road leading to the Osun Osogbo groove, Omisore also asked Aregbesola to complete or rehabilitate key roads in the state and pay clear arrears of workers’ salaries.