The present Osun financial crises evoke pity if one takes the time to understand its structural roots. It is hard for those of us who are familiar with the turf watch the governor, a man of an otherwise adored and praised by his people being picked at by an understandably aggrieved public over the turn of events. It will be a grave political mistake to treat this as a simple public finance management issue and turn a blind eye at the larger picture of fiscal dealings of the federal government with states.
Everyone is familiar with the narrative of a crash in allocation from the Centre. Well, it is real. If the receivables on your budget have had to take a 60% crash without precedence or warning, you are certainly going to be caught struggling in a net awhile, especially if your payables remain unforgivingly deductible at source, principal, interests and all!
But there is more. The creation of Osun state in 1991 by the Babangida administration left certain key elements out which was key to the survival and thriving of a federating entity – and some of such omission can be observed in a few young states as well. You can expect those states to reach their critical cusp any moment too and manifest fiscal trouble symptoms akin to what we have seen in Osun this far, unless the present federal administration alters the fundamentals to protect other states.
No.1. A new state must have a down payment of certain basic infrastructures. For Osun, the capital was billed to be linked to the Ibadan-Ilesha expressway by a 32-km road at Gbongan on the bill of the Federal government. This was left undone. Oshogbo remained a capital with a little “This way to” signboard pointing in its direction. How is that type of an environment to grow and become self-sustaining? Who wants to put his business in a location with no roads in a modern sense? The city was to be skirted by a 30-km axial road to broaden its rim and make movement faster. About 12km of that was built by the Federal government way back under military administration and the rest abandoned. But for the Bisi Akande government of 1999 to 2004, Osun could up till now still be without a state secretariat. The whole environment remained a pastoral and idyllic one, hardly the type that attracts or stimulate forward socioeconomic movement at all.
The Aregbesola administration in its zeal to accelerate economic development in the state had eagerly taken the bull of those projects by the horn and had gone to source long term loans to build those roads I mentioned as well as another federal road linking the state to Kwara. That bridge you see on the expressway that links Oshogbo at Gbongan on your way to Abuja is being built by the state, not the federal government. Pubic schools were pathetic, empty sheds and something just had to be done. Those projects are important if the state is to be stimulated economically and it is not fair for the Federal authorities to have shown a cavalier attitude in its duty to the newborn state 25 years on.
I believe if the Fed should repay Osun for those projects today, the state will be out of financial woods for the good part of its present N36billion salary bill, to begin with.
Talking about salary, how does a state like Osun cope with this huge personnel cost that swallows over 70% of its total revenue?