THE government of Ondo State has condemned the claim by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that the buses in the recently-launched Free School Shuttle programme were from the Federal Government.
Publicity Secretary of the state PDP, Wale Ozogoro, in a statement shortly after the buses were launched last week, accused the state government of insincerity “for claiming credit for a Federal Government’s palliative measure to deceive the people of the state.”
The PDP spokesman added that the buses were meant to reduce the pains of the controversial removal of certain percentage of petroleum subsidy on the population and that “rather than announce that these buses were given to us by the Federal Government, the government in its characteristic manner is hoodwinking the people by seeking undeserved credit.”
But Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Aderotimi Adelola, denied the claim by Ozogoro, saying the idea of a fleet of buses to convey students to and from their various schools was initiated by the state Governor Olusegun Mimiko “to directly touch the lives of pupils and their parents.”
While addressing journalists on the issue, Adeola said: “The whole idea, from conception to implementation and funding, is a baby of the state government. We did not receive a kobo of financing from any quarter not to talk of buses. And we are happy that our people are very excited about the whole thing.”
He said the state procured 290 buses apart from a fleet of 200 taxi-cabs that was distributed to assist commercial drivers and reduce the cost of fares in the town and that there was no way any of the vehicles could come from the Federal Government.
According to him, “we heard that the Federal Government had procured 1,000 buses as part of its palliative measures, so how can Ondo get 290 out of the lot? The truth is that not even one bus was given to us. And if our buses are part of the Federal Government’s fleet, how is it that we are the only state in Nigeria with free buses for school children?”
The SSG said the PDP’s claim “can only come from those who don’t know the fact but are bent on spreading a wicked rumour among the people. Their claim is nothing but evil insinuation targeted at misleading the people.”