The Rivers State House of Assembly yesterday directed its committee on local government affairs to summon the 23 local government council chairmen, the Heads of Personnel Management (HPM) and the Treasurers to appear before it to throw more light on the issue of non-payment of severance benefits and other remunerations to past political office holders in their various council areas.
The directive followed a motion aimed at directing the state Joint Account Allocation Committee to deduct at source all severance benefits, remunerations and salaries payable to all past political office holders of the 23 local government councils in the state, brought before it by Hon. Ikuinyi Owaji Ibani.
Hon Igbani explained that the committee had received various memos and appeals from past political office holders over the non-payment of their severance benefits by their local government councils, adding that the refusal of the council chairmen to pay the affected political office-holders gave rise to the motion.
The lawmaker averred that the House Committee on local government affairs had on several occasions directed the local government chairmen to pay all debts owed former political office holders adding that such directives yielded no positive results.
According to the House Committee Chairman on Local Government Affairs, the severance benefits of past political office holders is statutorily provided for in section 3 and 4 of the State Public and Political Office Holders Salaries, Allowances and Fringe Benefits Law, No. 4, 2002.
He prayed among other things that the House should direct the state Joint Account and Allocation Committee (JAAC) to deduct at source all gratuity and severance benefits accruable to all past political office-holders in the affected local government councils and pay directly to the affected officers after confirmation of the status of debts as they affect each local government council. The payments would take effect from December, 2009.
Taking the lead during the debate, Hon Chioma Golden (Etche II) described the motion as a new year package for the former local government political office holders and urged his colleagues to give the motion the desired support.
In their various contributions, Hon Ogiri Henry (Abual/Odual), Hope Ikiriko (AWELGA), Chidi Lloyd (Omohua), Brown Onari (AkULGA I), Nwile Befil Charles (Khana) and Hon Jaja Tamunosisi Gogo (Opobo/Nkoro) commended the mover of the motion for his zeal and effort to bring succour to the plights of the past political offer holders in the third tiers of the government.
The lawmakers regretted that despite several directives given to the council chairmen in the state to pay the severance allowances owed to the past political officer holders in their various local government, the chairmen have continued to flaunt the directives.
The lawmakers however, urged the committee to attach a comprehensive financial statement showing the level of indebtedness as it affect each local government council adding that such financial statement would assist the House take final position on the matter.
Ruling on the matter, the speaker, Rivers State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Tonye Harry urged the House Committee on Local Government Affairs to get an updated records owed to the past political officer holders across the 23 local government area in the state as well as to invite the council chairmen, treasurers and Heads of Personnel Management (HPM).
FG Mulls Introduction Of Private Firefighters
The Federal Government says it is proposing to broaden the scope of the National Fire Academy to accommodate private firefighters to address fire incidents across the country.
The plan, if carried out, would lead to the emergence of private firefighters in the country.
Speaking after his first official inspection tour of the academy, the Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, said the fire service could have certified private firefighters like the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps’ private guards.
He added that private firefighters were needed to enhance the fire service’s operations as well as improve their response time.
This was contained in a statement by the Minister’s Media Adviser, Alao Babatunde, yesterday.
The statement partly read, “Today, we have over 3 million private guards certified by the NSCDC. We can have something similar for the fire service. We need private fire service men to enhance our service and response time. The President’s #RenewedHope agenda has charged us to be innovative if we must change the narrative.
“As a matter of fact, this is another innovative way to generate revenue because we expect that anyone looking to become a safety or security guard should get trained and certified by this academy.”
Tunji-Ojo urged all institutions and recreation centres to engage certified fire and safety personnel trained by the academy when the plan materialises.
He said: “A lot has been done, but there is still a lot more to be done. With what I have seen here, I can guarantee you that we will work very hard to see that this facility will not only be useful in training officers of the fire service but also for the private sector.
“We must make fire safety a personal affair. Every institution, commercial and social recreation centre should have certified fire and safety personnel, trained by this facility.
“All public and commercial buildings and infrastructure such as banks, hotels, malls, restaurants, or even government buildings should have first responders that can administer basic fire fighting remedy while waiting for the arrival of a full operation squad of the country’s Fire Service”.
Decentralise Pipeline Surveillance Contracts, Ondo Ex-Militants Urge Tinubu
A group of ex-militants in Ondo State, on Wednesday, called on President Bola Tinubu to revisit the pipeline surveillance project and decentralise the awarding of the contract.
The group, under the auspices of the Ondo State Niger Delta Coastal Vanguard, said decentralisation of the contract would enhance the security of pipelines on waterways.
This was contained in a statement issued by the Public Relations Officer of the group, Chief Lucky Ajiroba.
The statement is titled, ‘Call on His Excellency President Bola Tinubu to re-visit the pipeline surveillance contract.’
The group faulted the last administration for awarding the contract to only one company, saying the purpose for which the contract was awarded was not achieved as the security situation of the pipelines was getting worse.
The statement read, “We are the members of Ondo State Niger Delta Coastal Vanguard. The group led by Akogun Job Omotuwa comprises ex-militants in the state who voluntarily submitted their arms and ammunition in response to the good gesture of the Federal Government of Nigeria under the amnesty programme in the year 2017, and we have shown our unwavering allegiance to the terms of the amnesty initiative of the government.
“The overall effects of all these are: it has increased considerably the quantum of oil production, it has substantially increased the revenue accruable to the Federation account, and ultimately it allows peaceful coexistence among the people of the oil-producing communities of the country.
“We are aware of the sterling enterprise of this administration to improve on the security architecture of the Nigeria state and all its apparatus, with a particular reference to the pipeline surveillance and secured waterways.
“The last administration made a giant stride by awarding the pipeline surveillance to a sole company in the Niger Delta Area. It is not out of place to state that the purpose upon which the contract was awarded for was not achieved as the situation of the security of the pipeline was worse than ever before since their collaborative effort was not enough to support the constituted military authorities.
“The failure of this was ascribed to the centralization of the contract. In view of this perennial failure, there has been avalanche of agitation from every quarter that the pipeline security contract should be decentralized for the purpose of achieving the desired goal of the Federal Government which is in the best interest of the entire citizens.”
The group, which commended the President for its efforts in repositioning the country’s economy, opined that each ex-militant leader in the Niger Delta Region be identified, and the pipeline security contract be split among them.
Assembly Tasks Delta Govt On Rising Prostitution, Drug Abuse
The Delta House of Assembly has passed a resolution urging the State Government to take drastic measures against rising cases of drug abuse and prostitution in the state.
This followed the adoption of a motion by Mrs Bridget Anyafulu (PDP-Oshimili South) at plenary in Asaba.
Presenting the motion, Anyafulu decried rising cases of open sex trade and use of illicit drugs among youths in the state, especially in Asaba and environs.
“Open sex trade and use of illicit drug is not a good example for our children.
“The situation is worrisome considering the fact that both issues are illegal,” she said.
Anyafulu, also the Chairman, House Committee on Women Affairs, Community and Social Development said that urgent measures must be taken to address the situation.
“The twin evil of drug abuse and sex trade represents great danger to the lives of our young people and the society at large.
“They both underline the physical, mental and social well-being of our young people and this will also jeopardize the development, peace and security of our dear state.
“So, I want to state that no nation survives without the youth, the youth and the young general are the life wire of our nation.
“Any nation that ignores the youth is heading for doom, so the importance of the young people cannot be over emphasized, it is therefore very important that we address this ugly trend,” she said.
Also speaking, Mr Oboro Preyor (PDP-Bomadi) decried the negative impact of rising drug abuse and prostitution, saying it must be addressed.
‘‘If this ugly trend is not addressed, it would attract more young people into their folks,’’ he said.
He also urged the government to rehabilitate youths who were addicted to drug and to create other avenues of engaging them in productive activities.
The motion was unanimously adopted by the lawmakers when put to voice vote by Speaker Dennis Guwor.
The lawmakers also called for support from law enforcement agencies to ensure the arrest and prosecution of illicit drug dealers and commercial sex workers in accordance with the law in order to curb the rising trend.
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