The Bayelsa State Government has lamented the rot in the civil service in the state, saying that many persons between the ages of 80 and 85 years are still in the employ of the ministries, departments and agencies in the state.
The Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Daniel Iworiso-Markson, made this known in Kaiama, headquarters of Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area of the state during the continuation of the town hall meeting on the ongoing reforms in the state’s civil service.
At the town hall meeting, stakeholders comprising cabinet members, monarchs, federal and state lawmakers, right groups, youth groups, among others, thronged to the headquarters of KOLGA to jaw-jaw on the reforms, a government’s programme that has occupied the centre-stage of state’s discourse.
Iworiso-Markson said that a situation whereby octogenarians failed to leave the stage for the youth to get employment, the system could not be said to be perfect and right, hence the government’s determination to change the narrative for the betterment of the majority of the people.
The commissioner also decried the humungous amount that went into pension payment monthly in the state, insisting that the over N500m paid monthly on pensions was unthinkable and abnormal.
He said, “The pension system in the state is as rotten as you can ever imagine. We are paying N500m monthly for pensions. It is only in Bayelsa that pensioners don’t die. And so, when you expect that the pension wage bill will come down, it remains at a level where it is.
“In the pension sub-sector, Governor Seriake Dickson has taken the bull by the horn. Right now, committees will be going to all our communities with the support of everybody, particularly our monarchs, to identify those pensioners in the communities. We will now undertake pay-as-you-go so that the right pensioners will be captured.”
The pension bill is too big and nobody is dying. Since 2012 till now, no pensioner has died, because when anybody dies, somebody else name is already there, collecting the salary. The governor has set up a special committee to tackle this problem.
Iworiso-Markson, who reiterated that reforms all over the world are painful but necessary, said in Bayelsa, the government had introduced human face to it.
“Governor Dickson himself has said that no one will be sacked. But he also said that if anyone, with his own hands, through some of the things he or she has done sacked himself, such a person should not blame the government,” the commissioner said.
In his remarks, the Caretaker Chairman, KOLGA, Mr. Wisdom Fafi, commended Governor Dickson for the reforms, saying that through the exercise, the council had been saving N40m monthly.
He said, “Before the reforms, this council was paying close to N120m as salaries of workers. But with the reforms, we are now paying N80m. What this means is that we are gaining over N40m monthly.
“With this state of affairs, the council has no more problem with payment of workers salaries. We cannot but thank His Excellency, Governor Seriake Dickson for his courage and determination to see this reform through. We commend him for that and we stand with him on the reforms.”
On his part, the Paramount Ruler of Opokuma Kingdom, King Okpoitari Diongoli, urged the government to introduce human face in the reforms.
He was particularly irked by the report of an account officer in a local government that was collecting the salaries of over 300 workers, saying that the official was not only sick but desired to be evaluated.
He called on the government not only to arrest the culprit but also to make him refund all the money he had stolen from the system.
He commended Governor Dickson for the reforms, saying that the development would invariably right the wrongs in the civil service system.