Stop Lying And Heating Up the Polity Bayelsa State Govt. Advice NLC……
The attention of the Bayelsa State government has been drawn to a publication in “The Nation” newspaper of Wednesday 20 September 2017 page 9 with the headline “NLC names states not utilizing bail out funds”.
The publication specifically stated that the NLC is naming and shaming states that refused to pay workers or make public the bailout funds and the Paris club refund that they received.
It went ahead to state that Bayelsa state is owing workers between five and ten months of salary arrears.
Reacting to the statement, commissioner for information and orientation, Hon. Jonathan Obuebite says it is worth noting that Bayelsa state did not apply for or receive salary bailout to states, this is because when states were applying for salary bailout, Bayelsa state was not owing her workers because the governor had saved some funds for the rainy days.
It was the local governments councils that applied for N1.2 billion for salaries of local government workers. For the records, It has been the policy of the Dickson’s administration that local government council funds should not be touched by state government and he has not derailed from it.
Obuebite recalled that for the first four years of Dickson’s administration between 2012 and 2016, no worker was ever owed salaries, not until 2016 when the allocation from theFederation Accounts Allocation Committee, FAAC started experiencing a steady decline and for the fact that the main source of revenue for the State has always come from federal allocations. And, this was not peculiar with Bayelsa state alone, as most States suffered similar fate.
For instance, the net allocation to the state in February, March, April and May 2016 were N2.98 billion, N2.16 billion, N2.42 billion and N3.45 billion respectively. These when matched against a monthly wage bill of over N4 billion, caused the inability of the state to meet its salary obligations.
In his words, “We must note that these net allocations was not meant for salary payment alone but also to meet all other state obligations, including local loans servicing, running of all MDAs and government, security expenses, education, health infrastructural development etc.”
Inevitably, salaries were owed in 2016. However, throughout 2017, the state has not owed any month.
The Information boss said that while the State is still gradually defraying the arrears of salaries owed in 2016, it has kept faith with all its salary obligations for the year 2017, as workers at the state level have all been paid up to date from January to August, 2017.
As a responsive and responsible Government, when the Paris/London Club refunds were received in December 2016 and June 2017, it met with the leadership of organized labour in the State, (NLC, TUC, NUT, etc) on how the funds were to be applied.
The Government and the organized labour agreed that, for the first receipt two months arrears be paid and for the second tranche one and a half month salaries arrears be paid also and this decision was implemented in December 2016 and July 2017 respectively, leaving an outstanding balance of four and a half months, knowing that the Paris Club refunds was not for state workers only as the whole citizenry of Bayelsa needs to benefit.
The Governor, who immediately directed the payment, also announced that, the balance of four and a half months salary arrears would be settled as soon it receives the remaining tranches from the federal government.
Obuebite says that for the umpteenth time, the Bayelsa State Government sympathizes with the workers at the third tier of government, but sadly cannot do much, because local governments equally received their funds, which were not tampered with and moreover, the State Government has limited resources at its disposal, with enormous responsibilities of its own to tackle.
He adds that it is also creditable to note that Bayelsa state has continued to report its income and expenditure on a monthly basis to its citizens, in line with the administration’s transparency laws which enables persons to ask questions about how the state funds have been utilized.
For the purpose of this report, I call on Nigerians to feel free to log onto the Bayelsa State Transparency site “ www.bayelsawatch.org” and see things for themselves.
He adds that it is a pity that the NLC failed to recognize the fact that Bayelsa state was the first state to acknowledge receipt of the Paris refund when it received it and that information was made public. But instead of commending the state for its transparency, they choose to be negaholics who do not see the good in anything.
“It is wrong and out place for anyone to mention Bayelsa State as one of the States owing salaries of primary school teachers, as it is constitutionally not the responsibility of the State Government to do so.”
“Let it be known that, the payment of salaries of primary school teachers lies squarely with the local government councils.”
The commissioner also pointed out that the government disagrees totally with the report by the Nigerian Union Of Teachers (NUT), which says that Bayelsa is one of the 13 states still owing primary and secondary school salaries.
In his words, “I tell you categorically that even the local government chairmen will tell you that since the inception of Governor Dickson in 2012, the state has never under any circumstance tampered with local government funds and will never do”.
Statutorily, local government councils are responsible for the payment of primary school teachers, but because of the governor’s emphasis on education, Bayelsa state government paid 83% of that obligation and allowed the local governments to pay only 17%, but when there was a shortfall in the allocation, the state now paid 60% while the councils paid 40%, which is borne out of the governors magnanimity.
The statement therefore called on union leaders to be factual in their reports, so as to avoid any form of misunderstanding, andreassured the people of the State that the restoration administration will not allow itself to be distracted, but remain focused on its agenda of repositioning Bayelsa State for a greater and more prosperous future.