Bayelsa State Government has asked its workforce to brace up for the global economic challenge, as the practice of augmenting monthly salary with bank loans is no longer sustainable.
With a monthly wage bill of N4 billion for workers coupled with the shortfall in the monthly allocation from the Federation Account of between N3 to N4 billion, the State Governor, Hon. Seriake Dickson said it would be difficult for government to meet its financial obligation.
Speaking with journalists on Thursday in Yenagoa, Dickson said his administration would meet with stakeholders towards devising a policy aimed at solving the problem of salary payment in the state.
According to him, steps are already being taken to sanitize the civil service with the aim of blocking wastages and loopholes to ensure greater productivity and effective service delivery.
Dickson said, “There have to be some discussions with workers and stakeholders. We cannot be borrowing to pay salaries as we have been doing. For our workforce minus political appointees, we need about N4 billion to pay salaries; the situation is not sustainable and realistic because of our development agenda.”
While allaying fears of workers, the Governor assured that rather than embark on retrenchment of the workforce and reduction of the minimum wage, greater emphasis will be placed on professionalism in the civil service in his second term.
He said, “A lot of states are going to have crisis this year, even the federation itself will face crisis and it’s not peculiar to Bayelsa state. It is important that the workforce in Bayelsa State should learn to appreciate these things before they jump here and there instigated by failed politicians who couldn’t win election but know how to sponsor demonstrations of old pensioners that they couldn’t pay when they were in office.”
While admonishing civil servants in the state against unwholesome practices such as involvement in partisan politics, payroll fraud and multiple employments, the Governor called on workers to be dedicated to their duties and loyal to the government of the day.
“There are a lot of things going on; people have their names in several vouchers, earning salaries above their grade level and all of those things are going to be corrected. I don’t also believe that we should reduce the minimum wage but if our government is getting N3 billion or N4 billion and our wage bill is N4 billion, then there should be a discussion. I don’t believe that we need to retrench workers because of the economic downturn.”
The governor added that any civil servant found culpable of contravening the civil service rules would be made to face disciplinary measures.
Dickson expressed his administration’s intention to bequeath a de-politicised civil service.