The term, Fake news, has a number of aliases, according to WIKIPEDIA: junk news, pseudonews, alternative facts or hoax news. It adds: ‘’Fake news…is a form of news consisting of deliberate disinformation or hoaxes spread via traditional news media (print and broadcast) or online social media…Fake news is written and published usually with the intent to mislead in order to damage an agency, entity, or person and/or gain financially or politically…or to increase readership.’’
That was what was at play on August 11, 2020, when Business Day newspaper ran a wild story with an equally raucous headline, ‘’Osun flirts with insolvency, spends 91% of FAAC Serving debt in Q1’’.
Then the body of the report claimed that the state is in the throes of grave challenges that might prevent it from meeting its contractual obligations to the civil servants, its creditors, foreign finance development partners and others with which Osun shares strategic ideas about growing the economy of the state. The consequence: no financial body will grant Osun fresh credit portfolio to take care of its needs.
The state’s IGR of N17.9b in 2019 isn’t roomy enough, says the prognosis, to make up for these shortfalls and sync with the state’s present and future plans for the citizens. This outlandish story also talks of the $20m health grant to Osun as having been wasted.
The writers of this fantasy, aptly passing for fake news, Michael Ani and Favour Olarenwaju, went to town without resorting to credible sources like the World Bank-Assisted States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) programme-for-Results. Osun is among the few states in Nigeria which has benefited from the whopping $750m SFTAS from the International Development Association, IDA, a member of the World Bank. It does a forensic check on prospective state-recipients before releasing funds under the scheme. How would an ailing Osun economy, such as portrayed by the report have escaped the unfailing radar of the World Bank?
But such is the buoyancy of Osun under the All Progressives Congress, APC, administration of Governor Gboyega Oyetola that in addition to ongoing massive capital projects across the length and breadth of the land, there is the mother of all: the mineral exploration venture with a tripartite ownership involving the Federal Government, Osun and a world class Canadian conglomerate.
By next month, the project will produce its first gold bar from its fields in Ijeshaland. Thousands of jobs are in the offing when it becomes fully functional. Even at its early stage, the statistics show that in its catchment zone, some 200 jobs have been secured for the indigenes of Mogbara, Odo-Ijesha and Iperindo. It is impossible for a prostrate state to command such vibrant economic projections.
The tall tale in Business Day also tries to draw blood from the point that Osun is indebted. What’s strange in that? Almost all the states are indebted one way or the other. The mighty Federal Government is also known to owe. Outside our clime the big economies of the world are debtors. Still, this hasn’t turned them into sickly financial bodies.
In Osun, the governor isn’t a witless administrator going cap in hand for loans here and there since his advent nearly two years ago. Nor has he been remiss in the payment of salaries or remittance of retirees’ dues.
Finally a word on the $20m primary health grant. The fund has been profitably utilized, seeing to the facelift of 250 Primary Health facilities, PHCs, all over Osun. One of them, Atakumosa PHC built 55 years ago, has experience 9 an impressive turnaround through the grant after decades of neglect.
It’s salutary economic ambience in Osun, contrary to the hoax of the duo of Business Day and Osun PDP. My Directorate invites them to come for a camera tour so they can capture the reality of the huge reconstruction project work in Osun under the APC government. Pictures don’t lie. Do they?
Oyatomi speaks for All Progressives Congress in the state of Osun