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Why Bayelsa Not Owing Workers’ Salaries –Dickson

Governor Seriake Dickson

By Collins Amadi, African Examiner – Combination of prudence and selfless dedication among other key factors have been identified as the reasons why Bayelsa State Government is not owing workers as well as pensioners’ salaries.

Except the challenge of gratuity payment which has been on for about a decade, the South South State is not in arrears of salaries to either serving or retired public servants.

Speaking during the Media Chat with the State’s Radio and Television, Governor Henry Seriake Dickson explained that the feat was achieved as his team put people’s interest first, stating this was  why in his office for three months,  no running cost was paid. Also he disclosed that overhead for three months were also put on hold, all aimed at ensuring that salaries of workers were paid.

The Governor reasoned: “These are for us, first line charges and every government needs to treat this as priority payments. And so, God has been helping and my team has been supporting and dedicated; that’s why we have been able to achieve what most states have not been able to achieve for now”.

On President Muhammadu Buhari’s bailout, Dickson declared Bayelsa was not indebted, therefore, was not given bailout.

However, the delay of a week or two of the State’s workers’ pay, (June salaries) Governor Dickson responded within the present Nigerian context was “nothing remarkable”. He indicated that some of the delays were due to late transfers and remittances from banks, a development which he confirmed has been sorted out.

Responding on the opposite trend in the State’s local governments, Governor Dickson who stated he allowed financial autonomy to the council areas, pointed out he had expected the local government authorities to have to priotize their workers’  salaries immediately after receiving allocations “even before obligations that have to do with running of the office”.

Dickson emphasized: “For three months running, I’ve not received or permitted any remittances to my office. I never permitted any payment of security votes to my office because I felt that priority has to be given to salaries and pension because these are wages that have been earned. So we are very sad that the situation” of such existed at the local governments, adding that the State’s Assembly was vested with the constitutional powers to unravel the reasons for the unpleasant development

He stressed that he did not want to pre-empt the outcome of the investigation being undertaken by the House of Assembly, yet, noted that the revenues accrued to councils has also drastically reduced due to the shortfalls in the allocation from the Federation account.

The Governor opened up that instead of deducting LGAs money, the State Government paid 60 percent of the burden – paid teachers which they “ought to bear away from them because of the importance that we attach to education”.

“So with regards to local government salaries, we are concerned because in the end, I am Governor of everybody and we are running a government that has to protect everybody. And, I await the recommendations that the Assembly shall make from their findings and inquiries but from the preliminary reports I have received so far, there is the possibility of our finding one way or the other to clear the backlog of salaries of Local Government workers.

“We have a very difficult situation that we are managing ourselves but I find it unacceptable in Bayelsa that any worker going to work will at month end not have his salary. It is not acceptable. So on that score, by the time I get the recommendations of the House, I will meet with my team and we shall devise ways to support the Councils for the sake of the workers” the Governor guaranteed.

On LGAs supervision, the Bayelsa number one citizen restated the Local Government Councils as created by the constitution were autonomous, saying this was why the State did not interfere in what the LGAs do, but only give general guidelines to be prudent and just as he had the obligation to declare his income and expenditure, adding that he same was also expected of them.

Governor Dickson assured that the State government would take more than a “passing interest” in the LGAs financial issues, especially as related to workers’ salaries.

The Bayelsa Volunteers scheme the Governor explained was designed as a mechanism for training members and imparting necessary skills in them for more permanent employment and productive enterprise.

“So all those beneficiaries, once salaries are paid, they will also get their allowances. They will be given opportunity to do a few things to earn a living, to earn one skill or the other; it is not intended to be a terminal end but stop-gap for the moment. It is to assist them find their bearing, assist them to cope with these difficult times pending when they will get something better and it will be nice for them to have this at the back of their minds before they start thinking they’ve got a pensionable job because that’s not the amount they would need to make a living forever” the State’s Chief Executive advised.

He enjoined members of the group to be law abiding as well as be faithful to their assigned duties so as to acquire the necessary skills and correct attitude.

On the approaching State’s gubernatorial poll, Governor Dickson argued despite that number of big wigs did not support the candidate of the mainstream of the party, the flag
bearer still won resoundingly.

Politics the Governor held was not magic that victory was conjure overnight, stressing rather,  “victory comes as a result of a totality of a lot of factors. Just because we have lost to APC at the general election, some fair weather politicians are running to APC as if they can make APC win overnight. Politics is not so. You are talking of a party of three Senators out of three Senators, you are talking of a party that has five out of five Reps members, and even at the worst of times when PDP in Abuja was contending against PDP Bayelsa with the support of faithful party members that we enjoy, we won three Senate seats, five Reps seats, and won 23 seats out of 24”.

“This state is a solid, impregnable stronghold of the PDP. Most of these big wigs, for about 15 or 16 years, PDP made all of them seem big. When PDP needed them most, at the last general elections, and for some reasons rightly or wrongly, they supported other candidates, PDP defeated them.

“This time calls for unity in Bayelsa. This is a time that calls for unity and cohesion. This is not a time to tear down this sacred land of Bayelsa. With what they are doing I’m sure Isaac Boro whom we brought back to bury will be turning in his grave to see if these are the leaders we have in Bayelsa. The late Harold papa Preye, the late Melford
Okilo will be looking at these characters, who do not know what it means to protect the collective Ijaw national interest.

“I took over 2012 and no one could smoothly access that road. We terminated that contract because it was a conduit pipe for fraud and awarded it to CCEC which is one of the best construction companies. In less than two years they completed it. Maybe they don’t know that it’s with the strategic intervention we made by giving Setraco three billion naira in partnership with Shell and NDDC that people can now drive to

“Now we feel that with all that we have done, with the peace and security that have returned to our State, that these characters leading APC who only stole and stole even the lives of our young people Bayelsans will now have an opportunity very soon to say whether they want to return to those dark days. Well, who sees light and prefers to return to darkness?

“I am here as a democratic governor, a champion of democracy and even where I am tested with some of the most violate situations or nasty propaganda, you have seen that I have not arrested any person or disrupted any meeting of the opposition for criticizing me.

“People are organizing rallies, including those who were throwing dynamites, shooting and killing people for declaring their ambition, for merely exercising their democratic right because that is their right.

“It is our conviction that Bayelsans are not fools to listen to them and to believe that when they come you will have plenty of money. It’s all lies. When the people leading APC and most of these characters were here, were you picking money on the streets of Bayelsa?

“So Bayelsans, “shine” your eyes. You have a government that means well so all you need to do is to co-operate and be patient. We don’t intimidate anybody, anybody is free to criticize and they are doing so, some are even choosing to defect to other parties” the Governor noted.

Dickson affirmed that the present projects in Bayelsa were conceived, designed, funded and completed by the State government.

He challenged “Everybody wants to be Governor, every character, everybody once you are 35 years develop a governorship ambition .Any position you hold you don’t use it to help the people, you don’t use it to work for the state, you use it to fight for governorship. That is what is happening in Bayelsa. So a lot of people who were not in Bayelsa have had the inordinate ambition but were intimidated by the performance of
my government and they say with the way” he was going, if nothing was done, they would not be able be able to contest an election again.

He cited instance of Amassoma and Boro roads, which he noted no previous State Governor achieved probably owing to time constraint, citing Chief Dieprye Alamiesigha and Goodluck Jonathan’s regimes.

With respect to accusation on abandoning some 200 graduates after training, Governor Dickson indicated that his government sent the trainees to Songhai but, but linked the setback to the lull in the country’s economy, but added the reintegrating agricultural programmes such as poultry, the piggery, the cassava farm, the rice mills, have been deployed to take care of them to ensure they compete their training.

The Governor also replied that his government has not been able to meet up with her bursary obligations due to insufficient inflow, yet, “reworking” its finances.

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