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Governor Biodun Oyebanji of Ekiti State has urged the recently inaugurated council chairmen in the state to prioritize accountability to the people. He reassured them that his administration is committed to not diverting or accessing allocations designated for the local councils from the federation accounts.

Governor Oyebanji cautioned the Chairmen and other council officials against misusing his name for fraudulent activities, emphasizing that anyone caught in such acts would be subject to the full extent of the law.

The governor, who also warned against moving of public money into private accounts for direct labour projects, saying such act is tantamount to fraud and won’t be tolerated under his leadership.

Governor Oyebanji made these disclosures on Thursday while flagging off a three-day retreat for the elected council chairmen and other key local government functionaries in Ekiti State. The event took place at Adetiloye Hall, Ado Ekiti.

Declaring open the retreat with the theme: “State and Local Government Strategic Planning and Implementation”, the Governor assured that under no guise would he interfere with how the money appropriated for the councils are expended.

“Sometimes around December 2023, I learnt local government officials in each of the councils deducted N1m out of the money approved for Christmas celebration and claimed they wanted to give it to me. I didn’t ask anybody to deduct any money for me.

“This might be true and it might not be true . If it was true, I didn’t get any money. Let me clear that I didn’t ask anybody to bring any money to me. And I didn’t collect any money. Henceforth, when you hear something of this nature, quickly contact me.

“Nobody should use my name for any fraudulent thing. I have made a covenant with God that such won’t happen under me. I am not going to touch your money, but I won’t allow you to spend it recklessly. Remember that humility in power is not a weakness, but a virtue”.

Sharing his perspective on how an ideal local government system should be run, Oyebanji urged the Chairmen to be participatory, by consulting widely with all the communities to execute projects that would have direct impact on the masses.

“Let me state here today that opportunities come with responsibilities. Those who elected you did that for a purpose. Your conduct will make the people form an opinion about our government. Your election is not an invitation for luxury, but for service.

“The question you should ask yourselves is, how do I make a difference in the lives of the people? Ask yourselves, how will I be remembered after this office? Three years is short and will soon come to an end. Will people still welcome you home or ignore you, the choice is yours”.

Oyebanji appealed to the council bosses to undertake projects that are 21st century compliant and that are based on the current economic realities to be able to reduce poverty, unemployment and solve most challenges associated with the local communities.

“What I have noticed is that, our people are stereotyped about Local Government system. This time, I don’t expect you to be buying rechargable light that will be dead tomorrow or build markets that nobody will use. Nothing stops the LG from doing electricity for a town that has not enjoyed light for 10 years, because light is catalytic.

“Nothing stops the LG from helping the farmers with seedlings, or provide tractorisation. Nothing stops you from empowering the traders. These are projects that resonate with the people. I closed my eyes to some things done under the last LG administration to avoid rancour , but for you, we are in the same boat together. I can hold you accountable for any of your actions”.

Urging the new council helmsmen to be wary of their actions, Oyebanji reminded that “you are a product of the people’s vote and your loyalty must be to the people. If your projects are popular among the people, the APC will be popular. After this retreat, go round the wards and collate what they want. It is the products that will form your Development Plans”.

For accountability, transparency and probity, Oyebanji promised that his government will set up a Procurement Process and Office of Transformation and Service Delivery in all councils to monitor expenditure and performance.

The Governor appealed to the council chairmen not to adopt direct labour for all projects, urging them to patronise local contractors.

In his submission, the Commissioner for Local Government Affairs, Hon. Folorunso Olabode, described the retreat as a strategic way of showing that the local government is strategic to the development plans of Ekiti State.

A Resource Person at the event, Senator Olubunmi Adetumbi, said the kernel of the retreat is to build a framework for effective partnership between the state and the local governments for operation devoid of division, so that the citizens could have value for their money.

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