The Bayelsa State Government has directed the immediate release of N1.3 billion share of the Paris Club refund to its eight local governments for full payment of their workers’ salaries.
The money, which is the first tranche of the refunds, was withheld pending staff verification to rid the councils of ghost workers.
President Muhammadu Buhari had, last Thursday, authorised the release of the second tranche of the refunds to states that complied with the terms which included disbursement of local government share.
Public servants in the local government system were placed on half salaries since May 2016, due to paucity of funds, while their backlog of arrears ranged from six months to 12 months across the local government areas.
The amount, out of the N14.5 billion received as the state share of the refund from the Federal Government, was disbursed to states in December 2016.
Governor Seriake Dickson had explained to stakeholders, during an emergency meeting in Yenagoa, that the decision to withhold the councils’ share was due to the discovery of fraud in their payroll.
The Bayelsa Commissioner for Local Government, Mr Aghata Goma, had confirmed the release of the fund on Friday and advised local government Chairmen in the state to deploy 50 per cent of the money to pay full salaries to workers.
“The governor has just approved the release of the local government share of the Paris Club loan refunds, and it will improve the resource base of the councils to meet their salary obligations to their workforce.
“It is important to note that the state government has authorised the release of the funds and we expect them to henceforth revert to payment of full salaries as opposed to the half salaries they currently pay,” Goma said.
Goma called on local governments to ensure that 50 per cent of the fund was committed to staff salaries while a reasonable part of the fund should be expended on people-oriented projects.
The commissioner said the fund was part of the efforts aimed at implementing agreements reached with local government workers who called off a strike in February 2017.
She noted that regular payment of salaries was expected to sustain industrial harmony at the local government levels.
Goma also urged the unions to continue to maintain peace and impress on their members the need for re-dedication to the service of the state.
She said that the caretaker committee chairmen in the councils had demonstrated commitment to staff welfare, but the economic recession had negatively affected Federal Allocation Account Committee’s disbursement to all tiers of government.
She also urged the union to support the council chairmen in their efforts to remove ghost workers and fraud.
Igbinedion University Inducts 90 Pharmacists
Igbinedion University, Okada (IUO), has inducted 90 pharmacists into its College of Pharmacy by the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN).
Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Lawrence Ezemonye, made this known during the 12th oath taking/induction ceremony of the 2021/2022 set in Benin.
He said the induction of the 90 made a total of 1,203 pharmacists graduated by the university since inception.
Ezemonye said the discipline is one of the institution’s flagship programmes highly sought after every year by applicants.
He urged the newly inducted pharmacists to be good ambassadors of the institution and contribute their quota toward advancing the healthcare delivery system.
“The graduates of this institution are blazing the trail in their various fields.
“Today, a total of 90 pharmacy graduates of the Dora Akunyili College of Pharmacy, found worthy in character and learning are being inducted.
“The event signifies the formal introduction of the graduates to the culture and practice of the pharmacy profession,’’ he said.
The Vice-Chancellor said that the National Universities Commission (NUC) approved the introduction of the Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm D) programme aside the Bachelor of Pharmacy (B. Pharm) programme for the institution.
He added that “in a bid to blend theory with practice, the university recently built an automated factory for the production of disinfectants, antiseptics and laboratory reagents.
“We have since commenced production to meet the immediate needs of the university teaching hospital and the parent’s Consultative Forum Clinic in the university”.
Edo Supplies 780,000 Litres Of Petrol
The Edo State Government says it has supplied 780, 000 litres of petrol as part of efforts to address the scarcity of petrol in the state.
It also said it had set up a Task Force to monitor the product’s distribution and sales in filling stations across the state.
The Commissioner for Mining and Energy, Mr Ethan Uzamere, made the announcement in a news conference in Benin.
Flanked by the Commissioner for Information, Chris Nehikhare and the Special Adviser to the state governor on Media Projects, Mr Crusoe Osagie, Uzamere noted that the 780,000 litre-supoly was part efforts to address the scarcity of the product in the state.
Uzamere said that Edo government would also ensure that the marketers got the product at the official pump price and sell at the regulated price.
“The government has heard the cries of the people on the issue of fuel scarcity in the state.
“The state government is working to ensure the availability of the product.
“As part of the measures, government has set up a task force to monitor the situation and ensure that no Edo citizen is exploited.
“We also wish to announce that already, the state has received 780,000 litres of fuel which will be distributed to major and independent marketers.
“And the task force will monitor its distribution and sales,” Uzamere said.
Also, the Commissioner for Information, Mr Chris Nehikhare, assured the residents that the state government would do everything possible to ensure that the fuel scarcity crisis was addressed.
According to him, government will not hesitate to deal with anybody found to be engaging in arbitrary price hike and hoarding of the product.
In his remarks, the Special Adviser to the governor on Media Projects, Mr Crusoe Osagie, said that parts of the duties of the task force would be to monitor pricing in the state.
“We want to warn people who hike their prices that anyone who is caught would be severely punished according to the dictates of the law.
“We will guard against subjecting Edo people to pain.
“This government is committed and will leave no stone unturned in ensuring normal pricing of petrol in the state,” Osagie said.
Warri LG Empowers 250 SMEs With Items, Cash
The Chairman, Warri South Local Government Area of Delta, Dr Michael Tidi, says about 250 small business operators have benefited from the council’s empowerment programme, comprising both cash and items worth N25 million.
Tidi made this known in Warri at the maiden edition of Enterprise and Empowerment Initiative programme of his administration.
He said that the gesture was part of his effort to scale up economic activities in the oil-rich city.
Fifty of the beneficiaries were given the Point of Sale (POS) machines and a sum of N70,000 each to enable them to set up their businesses.
The remaining 200 beneficiaries were given cheques of N100, 000 each to inject into their already existing businesses.
Addressing the beneficiaries, Tidi said that they were drawn from the National Social Register of Delta through the Community Based Targeting (CBT).
He explained that the CBT was saddled with the responsibility of identifying the poors and vulnerables in the communities of Warri South.
“This is the brainchild of the first and second edition of the Warri Economic Summit, which Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa and some economic eggheads and industry personnel attended.
“Part of the recommendations was what we are gradually implementing here today. You and I know that economic progress is anchored on SMEs. This is SME acceleration in every sense of the word.
“This Economic Empowerment programme is a response to the observed deficiencies in the capital base of small scale business operators.
“And lack of investment in human capital development at the grassroots, resulting to uneven distribution of resources to the poor and vulnerable,” Tidi said.
The chairman said that the empowerment was in line with the Okowa’s agenda on human capital development programmes.
“Wherein some small scale business operators in the LGA, who are at the bottom of economic pyramid, are identified for inclusion to access Micro Credit toward boosting their businesses,” he said.
Tidi, however, thanked the governor whom he described as his “mentor” for the various youths empowerment programmes in the state.
While assuring that the programme would come up again in no distant time, he said that its sustainability would be determined by how judicious and efficient the recipients put the resources into use.
“We will be encouraged to do more when we observe that recipients are committed to their business.
“Remember, the council has details of all the recipients and such will be monitoring the extent to which this opportunity will be utilised by the beneficiaries,” Tidi said.
The chairman said that the programme has nothing to do with elections, but rather strictly based on the needs of the people.
He noted that N25 million injected into the economy through the programme would drive the economy of the Warri city.
Tidi said he had embarked on the rehabilitation of the existing boreholes within the council, constructed a befitting Chairman’s Residential Quarters, provided solar light, renovated roads, schools among others that since inception of his administration.
One of the beneficiaries, Mrs Anthonia Babajide, commended the local government chairman, assuring him that she would put the money into judicious use.
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