The Bayelsa State Government has announced the suspension of salaries of hundreds of workers, sparking outrage amid fears of a mass sack.
The government said “excess staff” were being considered for “redeployment”, but staff unions, including the Nigerian Union of Journalists, said at least 222 their members in the state radio and newspaper had been fired.
A memo signed by the head of service, Thomas Zidafomo, addressed to general manager of Bayelsa Newspaper Corporation, said the exercise was part of an ongoing public service reforms meant to eliminate endemic employment racketeering and payroll fraud.
The letter directed the management of the two media outlets to withhold and remit April salaries of affected workers to a special account at the accountant general’s office. The letter showed that 86 staff of New Waves Newspaper and 136 workers from the Radio Bayelsa were affected from the list so far released.
“The Governor set up a committee to formulate an overall policy on staffing and funding of these parastatals in the state,” the letter said.
“Based on the recommendation of that committee, the government has directed that excess staff be deployed away from these parastatals with effect from April 2018.
“You are directed to notify the affected staff of this decision and deposit their monthly salaries in the State Unpaid Salary Account at the Office of Accountant-General commencing with April 2018.
“The affected staff should be advised to present themselves to the Committee on Screening of Staff to verify their area of professional competence for deployment exercise,” the head of service stated. Last year, the government said it had withheld the October salary of 4,202 civil servants suspected to be involved in irregularities.
The new decision has seen apprehensive staff accuse the government of plotting to sack them, dismissing its claim of redeploying excess workers.
A statement issued by the state NUJ, signed by its chairman, John Angese, and secretary, Stanley Imgbi said the unions and affected establishments were not privy to the exercise.
Diri Bags The Sun ‘Governor Of The Year Award’ …Dedicates Same To Bayelsa Flood Victims
Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has clinched The Sun’s 2022 “Governor Of The Year Award”.
He saluted the resilience of the people of the state, while dedicating the award by The Sun Newspapers to victims of last year’s monster floods in the state.
Speaking in Lagos last Saturday night shortly after he received the award, Governor Diri expressed delight that people of the state were able to surmount the challenges presented by the disaster.
A statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, quoted the Governor as also commending the people for supporting his administration and, saying that the award will spur him to do more.
Governor Diri particularly lauded the legislature and judiciary in the state for the synergy among the three arms of government, saying the cooperation has contributed greatly to the successes recorded by his administration.
He noted that the prevailing peace and harmony in the state was one of the prized achievements of his administration and stressed the need for the people to sustain the tempo, saying it was the only way Bayelsa can make good progress.
“This is more about the people of Bayelsa State. Whatever award we receive today is on behalf of the people of the state that have been very supportive.
“Also, the three arms of government working together, that synergy has helped us achieve whatever we are seeing today. We give the glory to God.
“I like to on behalf of the prosperity administration appreciate the good people of Baysa State, particularly the flood victims. We know what we went through and we thank God that we are alive to receive an award from The Sun.
“This, to me, is in recognition of the efforts of the people of Bayelsa State. It is in terms of the human and infrastructural development as well as the peace and harmony we are enjoying”, he said.
Earlier, Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of The Sun, Mr. Onuoha Ukeh, said the award, which was the 20th edition, is dedicated to recognising those that have contributed to the development of Nigeria.
In his remarks, Chairman of the occasion and former Governor of Ogun State, Chief Olusegun Osoba, expressed appreciation to the management and staff of the organisation for organizing the awards, saying it is a good way of encouraging development in Nigeria.
While describing this month’s general elections as crucial to the survival of Nigeria, Osoba hailed the introduction of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and urged Nigerians to be fully involved in the process in accordance with the laws of the land.
The Governor was accompanied to the event by Senator Moses Cleopas representing Bayelsa Central Senatorial District, Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Abraham Ingobere, some state legislators, Chairman of the state Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Solomon Agwana, business moguls, Chief Gesi Asamowei and Chief Ken Etete, Waripamowei Dudafa, members of the State Executive Council, and other government functionaries.
By: Ariwera Ibibo-Howells,
We Are Winning Oil Theft War, Militancy – Military
The Commander, 16 Brigade, Nigerian Army/Sector 2, Operation Delta Safe (OPDS), Brig.-Gen. Sadisu Yakasai, says the joint military force is winning the war against crude oil theft and militancy in the Niger Delta.
Yakasai spoke on Sunday during the end of the year 2022 West African Social Activities (WASA) held at Camp Tukur Buratai Barracks, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital.
Yakasai said: “The year 2022 was eventful and highly successful for us in 16 Brigade in the Niger Delta. The war against crude oil theft and militancy is being progressively and steadily won.
“Here in Bayelsa, our troops have been actively involved in Operation Delta Safe against militancy, sea piracy, sea robbery and other forms of criminality in the state, especially in the waterways entrance and exit to the state with a lot of successes.
“The Brigade has also been engaged in several other exercises and operations in achieving the feat for the state and the nation’s sake. Some of these include Exercise Still Waters 2022 which is eventually called ‘Operation Safe Conduct”.
The Commander stated that troops would remain professional and apolitical throughout the 2023 general elections.
According to him, ‘Operation Safe Conduct’ is aimed at providing the enabling environment for a peaceful and successful conduct of 2023 general elections.
He promised that with preparations so far made, the elections would be conducted successfully in Bayelsa and the country at large.
“In counting some of our activities in the course of last year, the Brigade was able to synergize with personnel of other security agencies who supported the Brigade in its operations and also conduct some civil military cooperation activities.
“The civil-military cooperation activities include donation of education materials, donation of relief materials to members of Elebele community and other communities.
“Others are donation of relief materials to Gloryland Orphanage Home, sanitation exercises, medical outreaches and groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of boreholes in communities,” he stated.
The Commander said WASA was an annual event usually organised for officers, soldiers and their families to interact.
He recalled that the history of the event dates back to 1901 when the Nigeria West Africa Frontier Force went to diverse cultural intervention of West African soldiers.
Also speaking, Governor Douye Diri of Bayelsa State, said being part of the interaction with the troops of various formation for the annual event taking place across the federation was an honour.
The Tide source reports that Diri was represented by his Special Adviser on Security Matters, CP Akpoebi Agarebi (rtd).
He described the occasion which was meant to mark the completion of the Brigade’s training for the year 2022 as a unique event.
According to him, this occasion from what I have seen provides a veritable avenue to showcase the glamorous tradition and rich cultural heritage of our communities in barracks and our cantonment.
“I wish to state here that 16 Brigade has every reason to celebrate the year 2022 as its officers and men have remained resolute in the discharge of their constitutional responsibilities.
“I am aware of your tremendous achievements in combating oil theft, kidnapping, militancy, sea piracy/robbery and other activities of criminal elements which have brought remarkable improvements in the security situation in Bayelsa.
“The people of Bayelsa, who are the direct beneficiaries of your effort, now sleep with their two eyes closed, the people now go about their lawful businesses without fear of molestation,’’ he said.
The governor commended the military for the synergy and collaboration with other security agencies in ensuring peace within their areas of operations especially the swift intervention during the flood menace that ravaged the state towards the end of 2022.
Diri also commended the prompt response during blockade of the East West road, the gateway into Bayelsa State by non-state actors protesting over welfare and other related matters.
“As you commence the year 2023 activities, let me remind you of the enormous task before you and the need for you to be more focused and determined to confront the maiden challenges as you are all aware, 2023 is the year of general elections across the nation and is just a few days from now.
“Therefore, I implore you to remain apolitical, steadfast and proactive in discharging your responsibilities.”
Delta Denies Seeking Fresh N100bn Loan
Delta State Government has cleared the air on myriad of claims that it was seeking new loans from banks ahead of the 2023 general elections.
It alleged that the misinformation is being peddled by the opposition, All Progressives Congress (APC), in the state, saying the state was not seeking fresh N100 billion loan as being alleged.
Commissioner for Finance, Chief Fidelis Tilije, stated this at a joint press conference with his Information counterpart, Charles Aniagwu and the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Olisa Ifeajika in Asaba.
He recalled that the State Government had earlier received an approval from the House of Assembly to obtain N150 billion bridging finance from the N240 billion accrued refunds to the state on the 13 per cent Derivation Policy.
He said the needed facility was later reduced to N100 billion by the state government after deliberation with finance houses involved in the arrangement.
According to him, after the discussion a new lead-finance-house emerged as against the one that was the leader at the time the House of Assembly gave the approval for the government to obtain the bridging finance facility.
He, therefore, explained that with the emergence of a new leading finance agent on the facility, and because of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s strict adherence to due process and law, “we went to the House of Assembly for a fresh resolution on their existing approval in line with prudential guidelines”.
He said: “I am drawn into this because we are beginning to see some misconceptions, particularly with regards to the N100 billion discounting facility that the state haas taken.
“I recall very vividly too that we have had news conferences where we said that the totality of the amount that we are trying to discount is still the same.
“We intended to take N150 billion as discounting facility from the market. But, when we reviewed the cash inflows, we reduced it to N100 billion.
“It is that same N100 billion that we have to go again to the House of Assembly last week because we found out that the lead agent of the said facility was not moving as fast as we want.
“So, all we did last week was to go back to the House of Assembly to seek their consent to enable us change the lead bank for that discounting facility.
“It is not a new loan, discounting facility nor a new bridging finance. It is still the same N100 billion we have been talking about.
“I know that in certain other states, the need to go to the House of Assembly may not even arise. This is because the responsibility of determining who is a lead agent in such a facility, lies squarely on the Executive.
“But, Sen. (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa, in his usual manner, felt that whatever alteration we are going to be making, we must still go back to the House of Assembly for consent.
“You will also recall too that while we were here before to brief you on this matter, we itemised all the projects we will be doing with the facility, and we are on course with these projects.
“For those who do not have the details of the projects tied to this discounting facility, they can go to the House of Assembly. It is a public document.”
On the other N20 billion facility, Tilije said it was a loan for an investment by the State Government in a floating gas company to be situated in Warri.
He said the State Government gave the company the condition of siting the company in Warri before it could invest in the project.
The Finance Commissioner further said that when completed, the project would provide jobs for citizens and increase the state’s internally-generated revenue.
On his part, Aniagwu said a number of the projects listed in the request for the bridging facility were being delivered, adding that some were inaugurated last week by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s Presidential Candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
He said the state government would continue to be transparent and accountable to the people of the state as promised by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and Vice-Presidential Candidate of the PDP.
By: Albert Ograka,
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