DICKSON'S INORDINATE APPOINTMENTS AND UNPAID BAYELSA STATE CIVIL SERVANTS
|Aluzu Ebikebuna Augusine|
Bayelsa state, the smallest state in Nigeria in terms of size and population has been making headlines in recent times for all the wrong reasons. From kidnapping, pipeline vandalism, sea piracy, abduction, cultists, armed robbery and now, unpaid civil servants salary. The most recent, coming from PUNCH newspaper with rider: "unpaid salaries, Bayelsa Civil Servants turn to begging for survival" on April 14, 2016.
With huge and enviable allocation over the years from the federal government such as Bayelsa, it is a thing of shame indeed coming from an oil producing state. It is no doubt that the governor admitted during the 2015 electioneering period that the state owes civil servants, he however attributed blame to the Federal Government for trimming the state allocation down to N2.9billion in January this year. The governor did not just recline on the wall to count his loss, he has swiftly acted in his bid to reposition the lost glory of the state. A drive through the Yenagoa metropolis and you can instantaneously behold a garbage free city on our roads and streets. Such ugly sites have characterized the state in recent times.
Such mammoth refuse dumps used in decorating our roads in lieu of flowers have been excavated by the necessity of the burial of the late governor general who was only recently laid to rest that attracted dignitaries into the state.
Another obvious aspect of the state life that the Governor has tried is the aspect of crime in the state. This Dickson's administration has reduced crime from the zenith of its occurrence to the nadir of such occurrence. Giving the precarious economic situation of Nigeria, some think it is a situation capable of driving a society from its state of equilibrium to a state of chaos. No doubt, crime in Bayelsa state has reduced to its barest minimum. Could it be as a result of the body language of the governor or because the main opposition party in the state is divided in intra party lines, hence the reduction of crime in the state? It is left for you to swallow and disgorge your opinion later as it is a thing to ponder for another day.
But, just this binary highlights of an administration that is currently five years old cannot overshadow the many short comings of the Governor’s second term in office.
One cannot satisfactorily aver the blueprint of this administration or the destination Henry Seriake Dickson is driving the Claphman Omnibus with his policies to, as he campaigned without any manifesto likewise many other governors in the county, neither are we able to make sense out of the appointments the governor now revel in making in recent times. Such appointment on SA on Events makes a mockery of an administration laced with the responsibility of repositioning the lost glory of the state, attract investors, pay renumetation to civil servants, pay students bursary to mention but a few. The governor have not commissioned any project and it doesn't seem likely he will.
The most worrisome of all the challenges faced by this administration is owing of civil servants salary. And for the governor to make verification as a 'condition precedent' before civil servants can be paid is callous on his part and highly inconsiderate.
Only sycophants will applaud the governor for such decision as he claims it is an attempt to strip the 45,000 civil servants workforce in the state off 'ghost workers' who have expert the antics of hemorrhaging our till for the benefits of syndicate few.
The task to rid Bayelsa state civil service off ghost workers did not start today. The exercise could be traced as far back as 2003, but started making considerable progress in 2009, under Chief Timipre Sylva administration the then Governor of the state, with the introduction of the Due Process and E-governance Bereau, under the able chairmanship of Mr. Von Kemeadi who estimated the Bayelsa state civil service force to be around 54,443 and the governments encumbrances culminating to N4.2billion monthly.
The issue of ghost workers indeed strikes fear in our heart as we know how much these syndicates have bled our States finance and the amount and measures government have put in place to cure this malady, the problem is that years after years, every successive administration is confronted with the task of ridding the state's civil service off ghost workers and the claim made by each successful administration is that considerable progress is made and people get arrested. Yet the question remains, who are the syndicates of this treacherous crime and how come nobody has been convicted for the crimes. If any progress has been recorded at all against such illegal means of hemorrhaging the Commonwealth, why is the business of ghost workers still attractive and people still get involved in it?
Also, the continuous blaming of the federal government for the state government inability to offset state civil servants salary is a complete dereliction of her responsibility. For a state that generated N700million as Internal Generated Revenue (IGR) for the fiscal year of 2015 according to the Nigerian Bereau of Statistics report against the N300million claimed by the Governor for the fiscal year of 2015 in an attempt to continuously mislead the unsuspecting public to be unable to pay it's civil servants is a shame to the current administration and a direct consequence of dependence on the federal allocation without any innovative ideals to improve the lots of the state.
How long can Bayelsa state civil servants endure such excruciating conditions before embarking on an industrial strike, only time will tell. Is the glass half full or half empty for Bayelsa state?
Aluzu Ebikebuna Augusine
Is a Social Critic and a Rights Activist who writes from Yenagoa.