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Public Service Reforms: Bayelsa Seeks Support from Whistle Blowers

Photo: Bayelsa State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Hon. Iworiso-Markson

…Ekeremor Monarch Exposes Fraudulent Health Worker

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – Bayelsa state government has called for active participation of whistle blowers to support its efforts at sanitizing the public service.

This is coming on the heels of the revelation of a traditional ruler from the Ekeremor local government area who said that a grade level ten health worker was earning as much as N600,000 monthly.

The traditional ruler King Gbasia Agbodo, while addressing a large crowd of stakeholders at the town hall meeting, revealed how a syndicate of payroll fraudsters collected N600,000 monthly salaries of a senior health worker for many years after his death.

He said despite the death of the employee, the syndicate ensured that his name remained in the payroll of Ekeremor Local Government Area causing the wage bill of the council to remain the same.

Speaking in Ijaw dialect, the monarch said when the syndicate sensed that the fraud could be discovered following the reforms by government, they found another means of retaining the figure.

“What payroll syndicate did was to write employment letters with many fictitious names to replace the deceased to the tune of N600,000. They ensured that names of persons for different grades and levels of employment were used to replace the dead health worker.

“So, despite the death of the senior personnel, the salary wage bill remained the same. But these reforms came, identified the fraud and stopped it. The fraud in the state’s public sector is entrenched and that is why we are grateful for what Governor Dickson is doing”, he said.

During a town hall meeting at Ekeremor held on Tuesday, the Bayelsa State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Hon. Daniel Iworiso-Markson said the present administration would not relent in its efforts to sanitize the
Public service and make it one of the best in Nigeria.

According to him, whistle blowing would encourage the public “to blow the whistle on any worker who is defrauding the system or engaged in fraudulent activities to shortchange the government.”

He expressed the present administration’s readiness to partner with individuals, especially those that have useful information on the activities of the pay roll fraudsters in the state public service.

Iworiso-Markson expressed confidence that the ongoing public sector reforms would enable government to save funds to commence the payment of gratuities and other welfare packages before the end of the present administration.

Funds that were hitherto spent on the payment of non-existent workers, he said, would be prudently managed to ensure that all genuine workers and retirees receive their earnings as and when due.

According to him, the reforms were helping to cut the wage bills of both state and local councils.

The Commissioner therefore expressed hope that the process would strengthen government to embark on more infrastructural development.

While commending the Chiefs and people of Ekeremor community for cooperating with government in maintaining peace in the area, Iworiso-Markson urged them to sustain the kind gesture to enable government take the Sagbama-Ekeremor Road to Ekeremor main town by December this year.

The Caretaker Chairman of Ekeremor Local Government Council, Mr Tolu Amatu, who recounted the gains recorded from the reforms, said that the Council’s wage bill has been reduced from over N90 billion in 2016 to its current N64 billion.

While appreciating Governor Seriake Dickson and the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr Iworiso-Markson for initiating the interactive meeting, Amatu assured government of the people’s readiness to support the reforms.

Speaking on behalf of traditional rulers from the area, the Paramount Ruler and Amapere of Ekeremor, Chief Agbodo Gbaseimo,endorsed the public sector restructuring exercise, describing the continued stay of over-aged workers as unpatriotic.

The traditional ruler revealed further that after his demise, fictitious names were fixed on the payroll to make up until the atrocity was discovered by the staff verification committee.

On his part, the member representing Ekeremor Constituency 1 at the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Hon. Ball Oyarede, said the bill seeking to give a legal backing to the reforms has reached advanced stage.

He stated that once signed into law those who commit fraud in the public service would be punished accordingly.

The Special Adviser to the Governor on Political Matters Two, Hon. Ayiba Duba, reassured the people that the restructuring would free up space for more employment opportunities.

While restating that no genuine worker would be adversely affected by the exercise, Hon. Duba decried a situation where workers attend verification exercises without their original higher school certificates several years after graduation

Also speaking, the Chairman, Ijaw Youths Council, Central Zone, Comrade Tari Porri, and Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Ijaw Language Development, Chief Mitini Tamaraumieyefa, cited developmental projects in the area particularly the Sagbama-Ekeremor Road as reason the people would continue to support the reforms.

Others who endorsed the reforms include the Chairperson, Bayelsa State Scholarship Board, Mrs Rebecca Suowari, the Governor’s Special Representative in Ekeremor Council Area, Mr Japan Udoji, a youth leader, Mr Chris Ebi Etolor and a representative of the Bayelsa Graduates Forum, Mr Kennedy Olorogun.

 

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