Bayelsa State Government has restated its resolve to sanction chairmen of local government areas or whoever is found culpable in payroll racketeering and other unwholesome practices in the public service.
The state Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, who stated this during a meeting with local government chairmen in Government House, Yenagoa, urged them to guard against corruption in the payroll system.
Ewhrudjakpo expressed concern over the current situation where the wage bill of some councils kept soaring even though workers exit the system every year through retirement and death.
A statement on Wednesday by his media aide, Mr. Doubara Atasi, quoted the deputy governor as saying that if the unhealthy trend was not checked, councils would struggle with the execution of projects thereby depriving residents of the benefits of good governance.
As part of measures to curtail the practice, Ewhrudjakpo, therefore, directed that all the local government chairmen submit the nominal rolls of their respective councils indicating the dates of employment and retirement of staff.
He also cautioned the council chairmen against illegal employment which he said would hurt the finances of the councils and the state government.
He, however, commended the chairmen for their understanding and cooperation in the ongoing efforts to sanitize the system and urged them to do more in that regard.
He said: “The efforts you are making are commendable but I think more needs to be done. That is why you have to take this directive seriously. So, going forward, all local governments are to submit their updated nominal rolls in terms of date of employment and date of retirement.
“We want to have that record, covering all staff of the councils including primary school teachers. We have to get rid of the issue of the replacement of dead workers because that is against the service rules. I have worked in the civil service before. Employment is not hereditary.
“The issue of employment is completely embargoed and should remain embargoed for now. So anybody who is trying to employ workers through the backdoor does so at great risk because that is illegal.”
The deputy governor also used the occasion of the meeting to express the importance of the state annual thanksgiving program, which is held on the second of November every year since its inception.
He, therefore, called on the council chairmen to mobilize people in their domains to be part of the thanksgiving service at the Ecumenical Centre, Igbogene, on Monday next week.
On the issue of the welfare of councilors, Ewhrudjakpo reassured them that steps were being taken to make provisions for what is due them.
Speaking on behalf of the chairmen, the State Chairman of Association of Local Governments of Nigeria, (ALGON) Chief Nigeria Kia, thanked the deputy governor for his continued support and assured him of their determination to move their various councils forward.