Chairmen of the eight Local Government Councils in Bayelsa State and their Councillors have unanimously agreed to save 50% of their monthly recurrent expenditure to take care of their severance and other unforseen financial obligations.
This was the major agreement reached at an enlarged meeting presided over by the deputy governor, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, at the Chief Dappa Biriye Conference Centre in Yenagoa.
The meeting also endorsed an earlier decision reached by the deputy governor, that the chairmen and principal officers of their councils, should use 60% of their monthly allocation for capital expenditure and 40% for recurrent.
All the chairmen and councillors in attendance also used the opportunity to pass a vote of confidence in the supervisory capacity of the Bayelsa state deputy governor.
They enjoined him to ignore rumours, blackmail and other antics of mischief-makers whose activities are targeted at sabotaging the efforts of the present administration to promote the well-being of local government councils in the state.
In his remarks, the deputy governor, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, said the meeting was convened to clear misgivings and rumours that he was withholding council funds as well as depriving councillors of their entitlements.
In a statement by his media aide, Doubara Atasi, Senator Ewhrudjakpo described the rumour as unfounded and warned those behind such smear campaigns to stop forthwith.
To make for more transparency and accountability, he said he would seek the approval of the Governor to start publishing the monthly allocations of councils on the state government’s website after every Joint Accounts Allocation Committee (JAAC) meeting.
Ewhrudjakpo also emphasized the need for payment of local government staff salaries through the computerized oracle platform as part of efforts to check fraud in the system.
He also cleared the air that there was no time the state government agreed to bear the full financial burden of promotion benefits for council workers.
According to him, the state government promised to only support Councils that their allocations would not be able to carry the additional financial responsibility arising from the implementation of the benefits.
While stressing the need for people of the state to shun rumour mongering and character assassination, Ewhrudjakpo urged the chairmen and councillors to discharge their duties with a sense of maturity and responsibility.
“Nobody should misrepresent us concerning the decision taken about the local government promotions. There was no time it was agreed that state government would augment the promotion benefits 100%.
“What we said was that, if the allocations come and there are councils that would not be able to meet up, then the state government would step in and augment.
“Let me now address the rumour and unfounded story about the deputy governor withholding council funds. As chairmen, you know, I’ve not collected and will not collect anything (gratification) from you.
“I want to state that some of us have integrity and will do all we can to protect it. I don’t know where the rumour is coming from. I’m not in government to destroy myself and image. So, I will not allow anybody to use me to ride his or her political horse.
“The 60% for capital and 40% for recurrent expenditure decision and even the idea of saving were collectively agreed. So, why are some of you going about telling your councillors and traditional rulers that it is my office that is withholding your funds?
“Now, chairmen take note of this; going forward, before the JAAC is released, I am going to announce the figures to the state just as the Federal Government is doing to the states. I will report this to the Governor and I believe he’s going to approve it.
“From next month we will force all of you into oracle. We are going to computerize the local government staff salaries. I believe this will help to address the issue of fraud and corruption in our local government councils”.