….Targets July Next Year For Final Clearing of Backlog
Bayelsa State Government has inaugurated committees to supervise the payment of Local Government gratuities, pensions and death benefits in the eight local government areas of the state.
Inaugurating the committees at his office in Government House, Yenagoa, on Monday, the Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, announced July next year as the timeline to completely clear the backlog owed council retirees, totalling about N6 billion.
The Deputy Governor, in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Mr Doubara Atasi, disclosed that N1.8billion, which represents 30 per cent of the total liability was already available for payment as first tranche.
Senator Ewhrudjakpo, who charged the committees to be thorough in discharging their assignment, explained they were set up to ensure that the payments are carried out in a diligent manner.
While assuring council workers of the present administration’s continued commitment to their welfare, he called on them to ensure the government is reelected to continue its good works.
The Deputy Governor pointed out that although the problem of backlog of gratuities was not created by the Governor Douye Diri-led Administration, the government decided to solve it, rather than casting aspersions or blaming past regimes.
He thanked the local government chairmen for their cooperation, noting that primary responsibility of the committees was to ascertain that cheques for payment are made to the right persons at all centres.
His words: “As a government, we don’t want to be complaining. We are not a government that blames people for their inadequacies. We think of how to solve problems. As I always tell people, the average man complains, but a reasonable man invent solution.
“So, we have come up with a solution to defray the backlog of about N6billion local government gratuities, pensions and death benefits. And we are taking 30% of that out now.
“That is why we have set up this Committee to supervise the payment. The cheques are ready but we just want to ensure that those who get the cheques are the right people.
“And so, we expect that local government pensioners and staff will savour this moment and again give the Prosperity Administration the opportunity to clear out this liability because to whom much is given, much is required.
As I said earlier, His Excellency, the Governor has said we should do everything within our ambit or power to ensure we completely clear this backlog by June or July 2024.”
In their separate responses, the State Chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Barnabas Simon and his National Union of Pensioners (NUP) counterpart, Chief Shell Alafa, for breaking the jinx on the payment of gratuities to retired local government employees.
They said Bayelsa State Government ranks among the few states doing well in terms of government-labour relations, adding that the current move would endear the present administration to all right-thinking public workers in the state.
The committees with each assigned to one of the eight local government areas have the representatives of the Ministry of Local Government as chairmen, while representatives of pensioners’ union,NUP, are to serve as secretaries.