Bayelsa State Government has constituted a 6-member Committee to investigate the issue of alleged illegal employment of some primary school academic and non-academic staff by the Yenagoa Local Government Council.
The state Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo announced the committee, headed by the Secretary to the State Government, Chief Konbowei Benson, at a meeting with Local Government Chairmen and Education Authority Secretaries in Government House, Yenagoa.
Other members of the committee include the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Local Government, Community and Chieftaincy Affairs, Mrs Ebiere Igodo-Adeh, State Secretary of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), Hon. Perekeme Bertola and Deputy Chief of Staff, Deputy Governor’s Office, Barrister Alex Dumbo.
The Committee also has the Technical Adviser on Treasury, Revenues and Accounts to the Governor, Mr Timipre Seipulou, the Director of Finance And Accounts, Ministry of Local Government, Mr Samuel Burutolu as well as the Director of Personnel, State Local Government Service Commission.
In his remarks, the Deputy Governor mandated the committee to determine the propriety and legality of the recent replacement of retired staff by the Yenagoa Council in view of the high wage bill challenge facing the various councils and the state government.
He advised the leadership of the various councils to be circumspect in their dealings and not to play to the gallery by taking decisions to promote their personal egos and political interest at the detriment of the common good.
Senator Ewhrudjakpo, who urged the committee to be thorough and objective in the discharge of their duty, pointed out that the embargo on employment is still in force and that, it is improper for any local government to employ workers now, that the state is grappling with high wagebill and dwindling resources.
He described as unacceptable a situation whereby the wage bill of the state is higher than most states with larger population, stressing that the prosperity administration is desirous of changing the narrative and bequeathing a worthy legacy of transparency and accountability.
To serve as a deterrent, the Deputy Governor said that allegations of illegal employment will be investigated and those found wanting will be sanctioned according to extant laws of the state.
His Words, “This behavior or act of illegal employment is not what I will condone. If you apply for employment, in so long as the state government has not approved, you don’t have the right to employ.
“Illegality does not give birth to legality, it can’t hold in any court. People have been doing this (illegality) over the years. We must call a spade a spade and stop this thing some people are doing and bringing our state to disrepute”
“This is an issue that borders on our morality. When you go outside this state, people are asking, how is it, that your small state has a wage bill of over five billion naira?
“They are asking, what is the moral value that allows people to do anything and get away with it here? I can’t be a party to that. So, consequences must be meted out to those that will be found wanting.
“Go to states like Delta, Rivers, Lagos and several others which are bigger than us in terms of population, you will be shocked to find that out wagebill is almost doubling theirs,” he said.