Bayelsa Government has distanced itself from the delay in the payment of June’s salaries of local council’s workers in the state.
The State Deputy Governor, Mr Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, made the position of the state government known while speaking at a meeting with former councillors under the aegis of the ‘Restoration Councillors Forum.’The deputy governor was speaking in Yenagoa on Tuesday.Ewhrudjakpo explained that the delay in payment of the salaries was caused by insufficient funds.
He disclosed that the state government was looking for ways to assist four local councils to pay their June salaries.“Contrary to unfounded rumours, the state government had not and will not tamper with council’s funds for any reason but rather the present administration supports them financially on a monthly basis.“Some of the councils currently find themselves in straitened financial circumstances due to high salary bills and servicing of loan facilities,” Ewhrudjakpo said.
“I’m the one interacting with the local government chairmen, so, I know what they are passing through as I talk to you, Ogbia, Nembe, Sagbama and Ekeremor are all in the negative.“In fact, we are trying to look somewhere to enable them get funds to pay their salaries and other statutory obligations.“Right now, part of the councils’ burden is the car loan they collected for their present councillors,” he said.
Addressing the former councillors, Ewhrudjakpo expressed displeasure at their approach in making their demands, including threatening to shut down the office of the Commissioner for Local Government, Chieftaincy Affairs and Community Development.While stressing the need for dialogue, he, reminded them that the unpaid arrears of their allowances were not owed by the state government but by the various councils.Ewhrudjakpo, however, assured them that the state government would play a role to ensure the settlement of the issues relating to their demands.To this end, he directed a 12-man committee set up by the state government to determine what each is owing the former councillors and turn in its report next week Tuesday for deliberations on how best to liquidate the debts.
“It will work out what we are owing and bring its report by Tuesday next week when we will meet to discuss how we are going to spread what is being owed for payments.“But the truth is that not everyone of you will be paid the same time because we have to put into consideration the availability of resources and capacity of the local governments to pay.“For instance, within the month that Southern Ijaw has some money, we will pay those of you from that area,” Ewhrudjakpo further explained.Earlier, in their separate presentations, Mr Believe Ezekiel, Mr Tonkumo Igoniware and Mrs Joyce West, appealed to the state government to look into their plight, claiming that they were being owed furniture and other allowances while in office.The former councillors, thanked the deputy governor for granting them audience, saying that they had to take their case to the state government in view of the current hardship facing them.
They, however, apologised to the state government over provocative measures they had taken in pressing home their demands, especially for threatening to embark on a street protest. (NAN)