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Simon Utebor, Yenagoa
The chairmen of verification committees set up by the Bayelsa State Government to verify staff and wage bills of the state’s eight local government areas have alleged massive fraud in their reports.
The reports, submitted to the state Deputy Governor, Rear Admiral John Jonah (retd.), during the Monthly Transparency Briefing, alleged salary payments to dead workers, employment of minors, unqualified workers, and truancy in the local government system.
The reports, presented by Chief Thompson Okorotie (Ekeremor); Senator Nimi Barigha-Amange (Nembe); Senator Inatimi Rufus-Spiff (Brass), and Chief Patrick Isulu, among others, exposed poorly administered and corruption-infested LGAs in the state.
Okorotie said out of the 1,777 employees of Ekeremor screened, 352 employees were discovered to be minors between the ages of one and six years.
He said the verification outcome, when implemented, would save the council N11m monthly.
On his part, Barigha-Amange stated that the verification exercise conducted in Nembe uncovered over 60 underage workers, with direct employment from secondary and tertiary institutions.
At Brass, the Chairman of the verification committee, Senator Inatimi-Spiff submitted that 13 workers were discovered to be dead but were still being paid salaries.
Rufus-Spiff added that the verification committee uncovered truancy and high number of senior staff.
The deputy governor, who received the report on behalf of the state Governor, Seriake Dickson, commended the committees for a job well done.
He expressed concern with the revelations made by the committees, saying the government had decided not to pay those that didn’t work.
Giving the income and expenditure for February, Jonah said Bayelsa received gross income of N6.3bn.
He stated that the state got N1.6bn statutory allocation, N3bn derivation and N594m VAT, among others.
The deputy governor explained that the expenditure for the month (February) included bond deduction, N1.2bn; foreign loan N21.3m; deduction of overpayment to the state from 2008 to 2009, N187.8m; deduction from boundary adjustment reconciliation, N2.98bn; andbank repayment N2.8bn.
He said at the end of the calculation, the state was left with N586. 4m.
He noted that after other payments including security, the state was left with N5m, without the payment of workers’ salaries.
When asked of the whereabouts of the governor, the deputy governor simply said, “The governor is on leave. As the second-in-command, I am in charge now.”
Until Jonah cleared the air on Dickson’s whereabouts, the absence of the governor had generated some controversies.
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Source: Punch News