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Bayelsa LGs get mandatory order to implement 3 major policies .Obuebite uncovers fraud in education sector

   Local government councils in Bayelsa state have been given mandatory directive to implement three major policies that would enhance proper administration of the council’s system in the state in line with its statutory responsibilities.
  The state Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr Daniel Iworiso-Markson handed down the directive while briefing newsmen the major decisions taking at the State Executive Council meeting at Government House Executive Chambers in Yenagoa.                                      
 Mr. Daniel Iworiso-Markson, Bayelsa State Commissioner for Information & Orientation
  According to the Information Commissioner local government councils in the state would henceforth retain only the number of workers they could afford to pay as employees of the councils to ensure regular payment of salaries.
  The State Executive Council also directed councils with effects from the next academic session to undertake the funding of scholarship programmes such as Ph.D, MSC and undergraduates under the Restoration Local Government Scholarship Scheme to encourage all eligible youths in the local government areas who have the ambition to further their education career in their different fields of endeavour but was hampered by lack of funds.
  The State Exco he said has also directed the local government councils to henceforth commence the training of Primary Health Workers in their respective council areas to enhance healthcare delivery at the rural areas.
  The Information Commissioner explained that the directive was sequel to the enormous progress attainted in the respective local government councils arising from the outcome of the reforms embarked upon in the various councils.
  He explained further that the reforms have brought about reduction of the staff strength of the local government councils especially those who entered the service through fraudulent means and remain redundancy as well as the number of ghost workers in the nominal pay rolls of councils uncovered.
   The commissioner pointed out that local government councils were created to render a numbers of services to the people as third tier of government, but not to pay salaries alone.
   According to the commissioner the reforms have place the councils in a better financial position to carry out their statutory responsibilities effectively.
  Mr. Iworiso-Markson also noted that most of the health centres in the local government areas did not have the required health personnel, stressing that even the few health personnel at disposal were ill-trained to manage the health facilities.
  Also, as part of the move to sanitize the local government system, he stated that the State Executive Council has also directed the Chairman of the Local Government Service Commission to conclude the regularization of all grade level status to end the arbitrary promotions in the service and the monumental fraud that is draining the council’s finances.
  The commissioner condemned the ongoing fraud in the payment of pensioners in the state, pointing out that pension’s wage bill in the state engulfed  N500 Million every month owing to the inclusion of dead persons in the payroll of pensioners.
  In order to curb the trend, he said the state Governor; Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson has inaugurated “Christian Leadership Support for the Public Service Reforms” to go to the communities of retirees and carry out Community Base Verification of pensioners.
  “Pensioners will be verified at their various communities. And this body of clergymen and women will go to the different communities where our pensioners are, and they will verify them on the spot as part of the reform to address the issue of pensioners, “he stated.
  The commissioner was accompanied during the briefing with the state commissioners for Health, Education, Labour Employment and Productivity, Local Government Administration and the eight Local Government Coucil’s Caretaker Committee Chairmen as well as the Special Adviser to the Governor on Treasury and Account.
  In his remarks, the state Commissioner for Health, Prof. Ebitimi Etebu remarked that apart from the local government support in the implementation of immunization services which he described as the key element for primary healthcare, a Primary Health Care Development Fund that would be funded by the state and the local government councils have been set up.
   Also in his remarks, the commissioner for Education, Mr. Jonathan Obuebite observed that out the total staff strength of 9,316 of the primary schools in the state, non-academic staff occupied 70 percent of the workforce leaving behind only 30 percent to teach in the primary schools.
  According to him records have shown that most of the non-academic staff were earlier employed as teachers but influenced their posting to the various Boards and Zonal Education offices to remain redundancy.
  He said, some staff in his office has been taking records of non-academic staff who have teaching qualifications to send them to the newly inaugurated Teachers Training Registration and Certification Board for retraining and to post them to schools as teaches to go and do the work they have studied.
  “Today we have people who study mathematics and were just sitting down in offices. We have people who are teaching English, Chemistry and Physics working in the zonal offices while we don’t have teachers to teach in these areas.
  And that is the essence of this reform so that we can reverse the trend and make it something that is workable and efficient”, he stated.
  On those having problems under the reforms in the education sector, Mr. Obuebite said that about 1000 persons are involve in age, certificate falsification, adding that some did not even have age declaration certificate while some have ones that are mutilated.
  He said a committee has been setup to re-evaluate their cases while those unfit will not be deployed but will be shown the way out because they are wrongly employed while some are ghost workers.
  Obuebite disclosed the alleged fraudulent practices going on in the State Post Primary Schools Board and the State Universal Primary Education Board.
  According to the Education Commissioner, records available in his office shows that you have 15, 30 teachers in a school but when visited you will only discovered may be 2 or 3 on ground.
“But on records we have teachers posted to those places while communities are complaining of lack of teachers. Something is wrong. It means somebody somewhere is doing something surcharging the system and also increasing their bank account. So, as a Government we are following up these things to ensure that we have 70 percent to teaching staff,” he asserted.
  On the staff strength of the state secondary schools, Mr. Obuebite said out of the total staff strength of 6,115 staff 70 percent is non-academic staff leaving only 30 percent as academic staff. However, he is optimistic that the ongoing reforms will address the issue.
  In his own remarks, the commissioner for Labour, Employment and Productivity, Chief Collins Cocodia had said that  the reforms wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the organized labour; NLC, TUC, NULGE and NUT.
  He pointed out that after going through the nominal rolls of staff working with the state and the local government, it was discovered that some places are overstaff while other places have staff that are not productive.
  The commissioner gave an instances of places like the state transport company which has been moribund for a long time has a staff strength of 170 receiving salaries every month but are not working, Niger Delta Television  has 160 staff while the Bayelsa Plastic Industry 148.
  He said government is of the view that if they were legally employed they will  pullout from there and those who have teaching qualification will be posted to teach in the state owned schools.
  Chief Coccodia also used the forum to disclose that Governor Henry Seriake Dickson has performed a ground breaking ceremony to build a befitting Secretariat for Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) which will be completed in five months from now.
  Also during the briefing, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Treasury and Account, Mr Seipulou Timipre unfolded that when the present administration assumed office in 2012 the state had a salary wage bill of N5.4 Billion.
  According to him the state wage bill as at March 2018 of the workforce in the public service has reduced to N2.9 billion sequels to the series of verifications embarked upon by the administration.
  He explained that this figure does not include the salaries of political appointees, adding that the state gives local governments councils a monthly subvention of N46 million to augment the payment council worker salaries.
  On the workforce of the state public service he said the state has about 28,600 explaining that out of this figure the main public service has 8,000 staff, parastatals 3.9, State Secondary Schools 6,000, pensioners 4.8 and the RDA 5,000.
  Also, the respective chairmen of the eight local government council’s caretaker committee gave progress reports of their different councils in the on ongoing reforms.
  Mr. Wisdom Fafi, the Council Caretaker Chairman of Kolokuma/Opokuma had said that on his inception to office in April, 2016 he inherited a salary wage bill of N59 Millions for payment of primary school teachers of the area but has reduced to N37 Millions under the ongoing reform of councils in the state. On the wage bill for council staff, he said he inherited N50 millions but has now reduced to N40 million.
  In Sagbama Local Government Council, the caretaker chairman Mr Michael Magbisa stated that on his inception to office in April, 2016 the council staff wage bill was N69,692,313.25 with a workforce of 1,125 but now the wage bill has reduced to N56,887,978.37 with a staff strength of 922.
  On teachers, he said the wage bill was initially N102, 843,124.96 with staff strength of 1,517 but now has dropped to N73,416,867.95 with a staff strength of 1,117.
  In his council, the Nembe local government caretaker committee chairman, Chief Befie Enemo said on his assumption to office in April, 2016 the council wage bill was N74 millions but has dropped to N66 millions. He said teachers wage bill in his council was N53 millions but has reduced to N33 millions as a result of the ongoing reforms.
  On his own report, the Brass Local Government Council Caretaker Committee Chairman, Mr Victor Isaiah said the council’s workers wage bill on his inception to office in April 2016 was N70 million, but has dropped to N64 million now as a result of the reforms. On teachers wage bill which was initially N49 million he said has reduced to N37 million.
  The chairman of Ekeremor Local Government Caretaker Committee, Mr Tolu Amatu said the council staff wage bill was N96 million but has reduced to N92 Millions base on the reforms.
In Yenagoa Local Government Council, the staff wage bill as at April, 2016 was N94 Million but has dropped to N84 million. On teachers, the wage bill was initially N100 million but has dropped to N63 million according to Mr Oboko Oforji who spoke through the Commissioner for local government administration.
   The wage bill for Ogbia Local Government Council which comprises the teachers and the council staff as presented by the Council’s caretaker committee, Mrs Naomi Ogoli was initially N207Million but has reduced to N165 Million following the reform according to the council chairman.
  Her counterpart from Southern Ijaw local government council, Mr Nigeria Kai said the wage bill of his Council comprising the teachers and the council staff was initially N201Million but has reduced to N131 Million following the reform according to the council chairman.

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