Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State has ordered the arrest of an official of a local government for collecting the salaries of 300 persons every month, the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Daniel Iworiso-Markson, has revealed.
Iworiso-Markson made the revelation on Monday during the commencement of a town hall meeting on civil service reforms in Yenagoa Local Government Area of the state.
The commissioner, who did not give the name of the errant official, hinted that the suspect is an Account Officer in a council in the Central Senatorial Zone.
Iworiso-Markson, who said the suspect was unmasked during a staff verification in the LGA, noted that cumulatively the suspected fraudulent officer was illicitly earning hundreds of millions of naira per annum.
Iworiso-Markson stated, “Recently, Governor Seriake Dickson had to order the arrest of an official of a council. He (the official) was collecting salaries of 300 people. Yearly, the officer fraudulently receives hundreds of millions of naira.
“That is in just one LGA and there are many places like that in the state. Some people are employed in civil service today, yet there is no document in their files. Instead, they were employed with affidavit. The same people who do not have any documents and qualifications are collecting salaries of level 14 workers and above.
“At the Bayelsa State Transport Company, you find a situation whereby you have about 180 drivers, but there are only five or six vehicles for them to drive. You can see the level of rot in the system. So, if we must be sincere to ourselves, we must all agree to join hands with the government to clean the mess in the system.”
Iworiso-Markson reiterated that the reform had come to stay, insisting that the people of Bayelsa must collectively redeem the state from collapse.
He said though people were averse to reforms everywhere, the government had found out that reform in the state was imperative if the state must be accorded its respect among the comity of states in the nation.
The information commissioner added, “Today, everywhere you go now, people talk of Bayelsa as a model. All these are because of the bold steps the Seriake Dickson-led administration has taken to redeem the state from payroll fraudsters and syndicates.
“This government has initiated a lot of programmes since its assumption of office six years ago and those programmes have become a reference point to other states. We want to assure the people that the reform has human face. Governor Dickson has reiterated that nobody will be sacked except those who use their hands to sack themselves.
“People who falsify their documents, their ages, buy appointment letters, earning salaries from more than one place and other criminal acts have used their own hands to sack themselves.”
Also speaking, the Chairman, Peoples Democratic Party Caucus in the state, Chief Godwin Odinka, commended the Governor for initiating the reforms, saying that successive administrations in the state could not muster the political will to carry out such programmes.
The 86-year-old Odinka, however, cautioned that in cleaning up the system, care should be taken not to make the reform look as a witch-hunt.
He said, “In cleaning the system, caution must be exercised so that people will not think it is intended as a witch-hunt on workers. What we want in this reform is a win-win situation.
“We must commend Governor Dickson for his courage in initiating these reforms in the civil service. Past administrations in the state could not do it because they lack the political will and courage to do so. We are advocating that the reforms should have human face.”
In his remarks, the Caretaker Chairman, Yenagoa LGA, Mr. Oboku Oforji, said the reforms had impacted positively on the revenue of the council.
He said through the reforms, the council had been able to realise millions of naira from payroll fraudsters, a situation that had improved the resources of the council.
He said when the reforms began, the council had a total staff strength of 1,483 but as of 2018, after weeding out ghost workers, the staff strength was slightly over 900.