Bayelsa State Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo has urged local government council chairmen to give priority attention to the payment of staff salaries in line with the cardinal objectives of the present administration.
Senator Ewhrudjakpo who spoke at a meeting with the Chairmen at his office in Government House, Yenagoa, stressed the need for more prudence in the face of the current economic realities necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The deputy governor warned that the state government would not hesitate to take disciplinary action against any council that owes workers’ salaries without any justifiable reasons.
He expressed dismay at the resurgence of payroll fraud in the local government system and urged its operators to conduct internal audits to address the issue of over-bloated wage bills.
Senator Ewhrudjakpo also urged them to make necessary sacrifices such as suspending the payment of monthly subventions to workers unions in order to free scarce resources for salaries and other projects at the grassroots level.
While emphasizing the need for the council chairmen to reside in their respective areas, the deputy Governor enjoined them to complement the state government’s efforts at containing the outbreak of the Coronavirus in the state.
Describing the pandemic as a major crisis that negatively impacts the world economy, Senator Ewhrudjakpo called on the people to take precautionary measures against the disease seriously.
His words, “This is a very trying period that requires special measures. We have said it before that we want all of you to relocate to your respective areas to perform your duties as council chairmen.
“This is also a time for us to make sacrifices for us to address the effects of the CoVID-19. You must, therefore, take the payment of council workers’ salaries as a priority. For now, suspend all donations to NULGE projects and logistics.
In their various contributions, the Chairmen of the Eight Local Government Councils described the issue of high salary bills as an inherited problem that must be tackled to make for a more result-oriented local government system.
Speaking as Leader of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) in the state, Chairman of Southern Ijaw Local Council, Chief Nigeria Kia assured the deputy Governor of their preparedness to carry out verification exercises to check the ugly trend.