Ogun State Government on Friday gave further insights into local government administration and funding, demonstrating its commitment to the development of the third tier of government.
At a press conference addressed by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mr Tokunbo Talabi, and Economic Adviser and Commissioner-designate, Mr Dapo Okubadejo, held at the Olusegun Osoba Press Centre, Governor’s Office, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, the government said the process of funding local governments in the state is transparent, open and in line with constitutional provision through the Joint Account Allocation Committee (JAAC).
The government noted that it has been augmenting allocations meant for local governments in the state from the federation account due to shortfalls occasioned by COVID-19 and the economic downturn in the country.
According to Mr. Talabi, at no time was there any disagreement between the chairmen of the local governments and the state government.
He denied any diversion of statutory allocations and zero allocation, insisting that the present administration has been transparent, accountable, just and equitable in spreading developmental projects to all parts of the State with inputs from local government chairmen in the last few years.
The SSG said the government routinely sends money to the councils to execute some projects to better the lots of the people at the grassroots.
“Up to date, the state government has provided over N1.8 billion for all these local governments to do independent projects, in addition to whatever the state government has done, in addition to whatever the federal government has done and in addition to funding the deficit.
“Now, when you look at the total carried forward as of July just from 2019 to July 2023, you will see that there is a deficit of N13.591 billion.
“The state government covers this deficit because it affects the salaries and pension of local government staff, primary school teachers, health workers, and traditional council members.
“Again, you recall that about two years ago, His Excellency promised that he was going to be paying N500 million every quarter to clear the backlog of gratuities from 2011, which has now been increased to N1 billion for both state and local government staff. And, paying the local government portion of the gratuities is an addition to the state government’s intervention.
“In addition to that, the governor also directed that certain quarterly allocations should be made directly to local governments for them to undertake certain developmental projects.
“When people talk about zero allocation being distributed, they should be enlightened to know that they cannot talk about allocation in isolation of the First Line Charges which is the first thing that must be paid in local government allocation,” he added.
Answering a question on the Ecological Fund, the Commissioner-designate, said the fund is periodical as it is credited into the state and local account through JAAC. He stated that the fund has a high level of oversight as it is meant for flood control, afforestation, and clearing of drainages, among others.
sent to the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, where they are reviewed, collated, and validated. These figures are referred to as First Line Charges. The figures are taken to the JAAC meeting, and once the allocation comes from Abuja, with respect to the JAAC, they disclose the amount at the meeting as money for Ogun State local government funding. They table all the distributions, which are the First Line Charges, and distribute on local government to local government basis.”
Okubadejo gave further clarification on the state government’s intervention in the local government’s allocations to the 20 local governments.
In 2020, N43.121 billion was budgeted for First Line Charges, while N34.750 billion was received from the federation account for the 20 local government areas, leaving a deficit of N6.619 billion.
The commissioner-designate also noted that the total allocation released for local governments in 2021 was N38.723 billion, while payment for First Line Charges was N47.845 billion.
In 2022, N48.074 billion was the total allocation for the local governments from the federation account, while N54.182 billion was the actual amount needed to pay First Line Charges.
“As we were getting into 2023, just for this administration alone, we were coming with a deficit that the state government has paid for of almost N17.4 billion,” he said.
He acknowledged that in January 2023, N7.6 billion was received as against the N7.221 billion total First Line Charges, leaving a little surplus.
In February, it went back to the normal trend, which was lower JAAC allocation and higher First Line Charges of N3.79 billion and N4.3 billion. The same thing in March and April.
In May, he said there was an increase of N6.348 billion to that of First Line Charges of N4.531 billion.