Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, has promised that pensioners and workers in the state’s public service will celebrate the coming end-of-the-year festivities with smiles with the expected refund of the Paris Club excess deduction to the state.
The governor made the promise in his address during the Mawlid An Nabiyy (celebration of Holy Prophet Muhammad’s birthday) at the Government House Arcade, Agodi, Ibadan, on Friday.
Ajimobi, who said he was pained by the cash crunch that had made regular payment of salaries and pensions impossible, expressed optimism that the state would be able to pay at least two months salaries, out of the three months arrears, before the coming celebrations.
With a workforce of more than 40,000, which he said was one of the largest in the country, the governor said that the administration had been very prudent in the management of the dwindling accruals to the state.
Ajimobi said, “Let me assures citizens that we will spend the Paris Club excess deduction refund being expected from the Federal Government prudently. We have that record of spending past refunds and budget support fund judiciously.
“Workers and pensioners will celebrate the coming festivities with joy, because we should be able to pay at least two months from the three months arrears we owe workers before the holidays.
“We are ruling this state with the fear of God. And I’m confident that those who are yet to come to terms with my positive interventions will sing my praise at the end of my tenure. Those abusing me today out of lack of understanding will celebrate me tomorrow.”
On the essence of the Prophet’s birthday celebration, the governor said it was an occasion to remind the people of the need to love and respect one another and fear only the Almighty in all their endeavours.
A popular Islamic preacher, Sheik Muyideen Bello and the Chairman of the state’s Muslim Community, Alhaji Kunle Sanni, said that Ajimobi deserved all the plaudits he had so far received from the Islamic faithful.
Judging by what they posited as the governor’s spirited efforts at ensuring that Muslims were not relegated in the state affairs, the Muslim leaders said it was natural that the adherents reciprocated the governor’s gestures.
Bello said, “If your (Ajimobi) predecessors had performed well as he is doing now, Oyo State would have developed more than this. That is why I will reiterate my admonition to you to ensure that your successor will be committed to building on your legacies.
“Let your successor be someone that fear God like you. We are not interested in the person’s level of education, political weight and other sentiments. The person we want for Oyo State should be someone that will continue from where you will stop.”
On his part, Sanni advised those he said were criticizing the Muslim Community for honoring Ajimobi to wait for their turns.
He said, “I want to make it clear again that we are not politicians. We are celebrating Ajimobi because of his fair treatment of Muslims. I will advise those criticizing us now to wait for their turns if they want to be governor. If they treat Muslims fairly, they will also be celebrated.
“We were not induced with anything other than the governor’s fairness and equity in dealing with us. We did agitate before he permitted our children to wear hijab. He was the first governor to authorize Hijrah (Islamic New Year) as public holiday. What about the large expanse of land he gave us to build our secretariat, among his several good deeds.”