By Lukman Olabiyi
Mr Segun Olugboyegun, a member of committee for the Ondo State COVID-19 Response Fund, has said that the false message trending on social media is nothing but an attempt to jeopardise Governor Rotimi Akeredolu’s second term bid.
He made this known in a statement where he exonerated himself and the committee of any wrongdoing in managing the fund made available to them.
He disclosed that for the state to have value for money, an open, transparent, and competitive bidding process was adopted by the committee where quality, competence, and competitive pricing were employed.
Olugboyegun promised that about N700million donations received by the committee in cash and kind would be made public very soon. He explained that contrary to the claim of malicious massage being circulated, that “I, Segun Olugboyegun (formerly Fagboyegun) was the chairman of the committee. The chairman is no less a personality than distinguished Mr. Kayode Falowo, who is the chairman of Greenwich Trust Limited. I was just one out of six other members of the committee, excluding the Secretary.”
He stated that the members of the committee did not collect salary, remuneration, sitting allowance, perquisites or anything whatsoever from either the state government or the State COVID-19 Response Fund Committee. Besides, some members of the committee, including him, also made donations to the fund.
On transparent and accountability of the committees, Olugboyegun stated that they appointed an audit firm and other international professionals as advisers to over see their activities:
“The same thing was demonstrated the committee when it responded promptly to an Abuja-based organisation, Connected Development, which wanted information on COVID-19 donations/interventions under the Freedom of Information Act 2011, the request was made on July 20, and it was quickly and appropriately responded to within four days.
“This recorded message contained wilful allegations obviously meant to assassinate my character and damage my reputation and standing in the reckoning of reasonable members of the public.
“It is obvious that this bare-faced campaign of calumny, targeted at Akeredolu, is propelled and driven by the sinister motive to smear him and adversely affect his chances in the October 10, 2020, governorship election.
“While the vile recorded message left no conscionable, discernible, and right-thinking person in doubt that it was a sponsored hatchet job, I make bold to say that this is politics carried too far by political jobbers lacking in integrity and conscience.
“My concerns, however, are the references made to my person, image and reputation which I had laboured to build over the years, as well as my pedigree which I value, cherish, and hold dear more than gold. The malicious distortion of my role in the committee must also not be allowed to go unchallenged and unpunished.
“It is a sad day indeed when those driven by the passion, zeal, and enthusiasm to serve the public interest are abused and called names they do not deserve by malevolent elements serving selfish ends and playing base partisan politics with a matter like the COVID-19 pandemic, which involves life and death.
“Without the timely intervention of the committee, which worked assiduously to fill the identified yawning gaps in the Ondo State healthcare delivery system, especially with regards to its response to the novel COVID-19, I shudder to think what the figures of fatalities arising from the pandemic would have been in the state.
“Because of the zeal, passion, and enthusiasm with which the members of the committee discharged their assignment, Ondo State recorded the second highest fund contributions coming after Lagos State.
“It is, therefore, most unfortunate when highly placed persons who, by dint of their own hard work and the grace of God upon their life, having attained heights where they feel they owe it a duty to give back to society, are maligned and vilified for doing so.
“As a member of the committee, I have been compelled to volunteer the above information because of the patent falsehoods contained in the malicious recorded message under reference.
“It is important for me to so act in order that my silence may not be misconstrued as the admission of guilt. The masterminds and sponsors of the message can run and hide under pseudo-names but they will not be able to do so for too long. Efforts are on to unmask them be made to face the full wrath of the law as well as serve as deterrent to others.”