Bayelsa Gov, Dickson Vows Not To Lay-Off Teachers

Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State has said that his government will not sack any teacher in the state as from January 2018.

The Governor said that the government would rather train and retrain the teachers in the state’s primary and secondary schools as well as others for greater productivity.

A statement by the Special Adviser on Media Relations, Mr. Fidelis Soriwei, on Thursday, said that the governor gave the assurance during the inauguration of the governing councils of Isaac Jasper Boro College of Education, Sagbama, and the Bayelsa State College of Health Technology, Otuogidi.

He, however, said that only teachers with fake certificates or those who refused to be at their duty-posts to work should have reasons to be afraid of being sacked.

He urged the chairmen and members of the new governing boards to ensure that only people who should be in the institutions were engaged.

Dickson stressed that the previous practice in the state where unborn children, octogenarians and retirees were dubiously included in the payroll should not be tolerated.

He said the government would provide grants to all state-owned tertiary institutions with effect from January 2018 as well as beef up their infrastructure and enhance their revenue generating capacity.

Notorious Armed Robbers, Cultists Escape Police Custody In Bayelsa

An uncertain number of notorious armed robbers and cultists have escaped from the custody of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigerian Police in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.

The police command in Bayelsa was said to be combing all the nooks and crannies of the state capital to re-arrest the suspected daredevil criminals.

While some said the fleeing number was 10, security sources said the police were still trying to determine the figure.

But one of them, it was gathered, had been rearrested by the police.

Bayelsa Govt Establishes Special Court To Check Payroll Fraud

The Bayelsa Gov. Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa has authorized the creation of a special court to fast-track the prosecution of those indicted in the payroll fraud in the state civil service.

Recall that Governor Dickson had set up a prosecution team following staff verification exercise that uncovered 5, 000 ghost workers in Bayelsa public service.

The governor spoke on Thursday in Yenagoa, when he addressed members of the Committee on Public Service Reforms.
He said that government had alerted the Commissioner of Police and had constituted a committee to prosecute those inflicted in the fraud.

The nine-man judicial commission is headed by Justice Doris Adokeme.

“We have contacted the Commissioner of Police on the need for prosecution. I can assure you that no innocent person would be affected.

“That is why the Judicial Commission of Inquiry is there. Anybody who has a case, anybody who feels he is not fairly treated has the chance to go there.

“The prosecution team is waiting and the courts are waiting to commence action soon,” Dickson said.

The governor reiterated his resolve to do everything necessary to stop the bleeding of the state finances by some greedy unscrupulous elements.

However, recall that a staff audit constituted in May 2016 to probe the payroll fraud in the local government system discovered 3,243 unauthorised employees in the Rural Development Authorities, and 3,037 in the eight constitutionally recognised local government areas.

Dickson lamented that the probe into the entire public service had uncovered widespread corruption costing the state about N1 billion every month.

Dickson ordered the compilation of the names of the alleged salary fraudsters, during one of the meetings with the committee chaired by the Deputy Governor, retired Rear Adm. Gboribiogha John Jonah.

According to Dickson, the first practical step towards implementing the painstaking reforms is that those discovered to be drawing salaries from multiple agencies of the state would stop receiving their pay with effect from October.

Mr Daniel Iworiso-Markson, Commissioner for Information and Orientation, told investigators in a telephone interview that full action on the committee’s report would commence soon.

“We are talking about fraud perpetrated over the years that has made the state to lose billions of naira.

“So if the governor, who demonstrated the courage to take on this evil, is making moves to prosecute them, then it should not be a surprise,’’ Iworiso-Markson said.

Bayelsa In Massive Job Creation

Gov. Seriake Dickson, the Bayelsa Government said on Thursday in Yenagoa that it created over 7,000 direct and indirect jobs through the release of N1.88 billion loan to Small and Medium-scale to entrepreneurs and cooperatives.

The Governor stated this at the 2017 African SME EXPO with the theme `Promoting SMEs for sustainable development and economic growth’.

Dickson, represented by his Deputy, Rear Admiral John Jonah (rtd), said that his administration achieved the feat in partnership with the Bank of Industry and other relevant agencies.

He said that the initiative enhanced the growth of SMEs with direct impact on the economic growth of the state.

Dickson said that In furtherance to his commitment to job creation and empowerment of the teeming youths in the state, the government was also negotiating for an N2 billion Micro, Small and Medium Scale (MSME) Entrepreneurship loan.

He explained that in 2015, the government launched Izon Microfinance Bank to provide small businesses and serious minded entrepreneurs with access to capital.

“This is important for us because funding is crucial if people are to innovate and think outside the box.

“We have achieved so much since the commencement of the Microfinance Bank, especially because the bank, with support provided by CBN and other funding partners, has supported women groups and cooperatives in the state to venture on their own.”

Describing SMEs as a panacea for the growth of the local economy, Dickson stressed the need for the promotion of locally made goods and as well as simplifying business registration process.

“We need to deliberate in strengthening the existing institutions as in the Bayelsa example, where there is a law that one per cent of the annual state budget is released to the Bayelsa State Microfinance and Enterprises Development Agency for SME development yearly.

“We must simplify the registration processes for businesses and encourage their migration from the informal to the formal sector through regulation and proper monitoring.

“As leaders and opinion shapers, we need to encourage technology diffusion through value chain processes and establish priority sectors for local investment,” the governor said.

Dickson recommended tax incentives for priority sectors, saying that it is a means of boosting local production.

In addition, he advocated for training and incentives for the utilization of local production resources for SMEs that establish operations in certain designated areas.

Dickson said the gains of his administration included the 60 tonnes per day Cassava starch factory at Ebedebiri in Sagbama that is linked with the cultivation of a 100-hectare cassava farm.

“Our Aquaculture village at Yenegwe in Yenagoa, with a fish processing complex capacity of 7.5 tonnes per batch, 20 tonnes per day feed mill, 500 non-earthen ponds capable of accommodating 700 fishes, hatchery with six million fingerlings per animals.

“Our plans, in collaboration with the Federal Government over the Peremabiri Rice farms/mills in Southern Ijaw, is also one of the largest in Africa with a huge capacity that has started.

“With that in mind, the construction of a 3.5 Kms run away Cargo Airport is under way in Bayelsa,” Dickson said.

In his contribution, Dr. Ebiekure Eradiri, the Director-General, Bayelsa State Microfinance and Enterprise Development Agency, applauded Dickson’s vision and support for the MSMEs sub-sector.

Eradiri said that since Dickson took over the mantle of leadership in the state in 2012, he has been of tremendous support to the scheme.

He stated that the Africa SME Expo event had increased the perspective and that the Agency was willing to pursue vigorously its mandate to achieve its cardinal projects on fund recovery, job creation and wealth creation for Bayelsa.

Bayelsa State Governor Encourage Workers To Embrace Health Insurance Scheme

Bayelsa Government has urged health institutions in the state to key into the Health Insurance Scheme being packaged for workers and people of the state.

The Commissioner for Health, Prof. Ebitimitula Etebu, spoke on Wednesday in Yenagoa at a one-day sensitisation and interactive session with doctors on the implementation of the scheme.

The commissioner enjoined medical doctors to deploy their wealth of experience to ensure that the scheme succeeds, noting that the state government places high premium on its implementation.

Dr Zuoboemi Agadah, Executive Secretary of the Bayelsa State Health Insurance Scheme, explained the workings of the scheme.

He said that the scheme was not meant to maximise profit, but to ensure equitable distribution of health care cost among low and high-income earners.

Agadah noted that the level of contributions to the scheme by enrollees was not determined by the health risk of individuals, but their ability to pay.

He said though the scheme was compulsory for all public servants in the state, corporate organisations with not less than 10 employees and voluntary contributors could key into the scheme.

The executive secretary added that registration of health facilities for the scheme had commenced, and urged interested health care providers to collect registration forms.

He explained that the forms were available at the Bayelsa Health Insurance Schemes office, near Government House, Yenagoa

Bayelsa Might Have The Worst Maternal Mortality In South-South

Professor Ebitimitula Etebu, the Commissioner for Health, disclosed on Monday in Yenagoa while declaring open the commencement of the week-long first round 2017 Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Week (MNCHW) in the Bayelsa, that the state currently has the poorest record of maternal mortality rate among the states of the south-south region in particular and the country in general.

 

Etebu, who put the maternal mortality figure at 1,870/100,000, attributed “this sad state of affairs” to low coverage of key high-impact interventions in virtually all previous rounds, and poor access to communities, especially due to a plethora of hard-to-reach areas occasioned by the extensive riverine terrain.

 

He listed other factors to include poor social mobilization of the peoples and communities, training/knowledge gaps amongst health care workers and health care staff attrition.

“The state has carried out 14 rounds of the MNCH since when the week was first birthed, and in all that time, the state has not performed well in all measurable indices due, in most part, to the reasons highlighted earlier,” Etebu said.

He said the MNCHW is a product of the 53rd National Council on Health Meeting aimed at delivering integrated, high-impact and low-cost preventive and curative health services to children and pregnant women.

He noted that the programme, which is implemented in two rounds, six months apart in any given year, also serves to strengthen routine services delivered at the health facilities and that it is a simple, one-time delivery mechanism which consolidates facility-based outreach services at the state, local government area, and ward levels.

 

Bayelsa Govt Moves To Avert Primary School Teachers Strike

The payment of April salary for primary school teachers in Bayelsa has averted a planned three-day warning strike by teachers in the state. The state chapter of Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) had planned to proceed on a warning strike to press for payment of up to seven months salary arrears.

Dr Agatha Goma, Bayelsa Commissioner for Local Government Administration, said in Yenagoa on Sunday that the ministry had met with the teachers union to avert the strike. Goma commended the primary school teachers for their patience and assured that the state government would implement all agreements reached with their union. She attributed the delay in the payment of the salaries to paucity of funds due to dwindling revenue as a result of economic downturn.

 

The commissioner explained that the local government share of the Paris Club refunds was deployed to the payment of salaries of primary school teachers. According to her, as part of government demonstration of good faith, local council workers are now getting full salary as against half salaries paid last year. The commissioner said the state government would continue to work with the local authorities to find permanent solution to the lingering financial crisis in the councils. Goma said government was aware of the critical roles of teachers in the ongoing educational revolution in the state and would not toy with their welfare.

 

“Teachers welfare is pivotal to Gov. Seriake Dicksons revolution in the education sector. There is no deliberate effort to undermine teachers welfare. “The issues of half salary in 2016 and delays in payment arose because of the recession in the Nigerian economy. “But the teachers should be assured that government is concerned about their welfare and everything is being done to find a permanent solution to this challenge,’’ Goma said.

Source: Vanguard

44 IPOB Members Freed In Bayelsa

A Yenagoa Magistrate’s Court in Bayelsa on Tuesday freed 44  members of the Indigenous People ‎of Biafra. (IPOB), detained since October 2016.

The Presiding Magistrate, Penawei Mukoro, upholding the no-case submission by the lawyer to the detainees,  dismissed the three counts of conspiracy, breach of public peace and unlawful gathering levelled against them by the police.

The magistrate subsequently discharged and acquitted the accused persons.

The 44 IPOB members were arrested in October 2016 while meeting in Okaka area of Yenagoa, the state capital, by operatives of the Joint Military Task Force, Operation Delta Safe.

The suspects were later handed over to the police authorities for investigation and prosecution.

Mr Kingsley Nwosu, who represented the detainees,  argued a ‘no-case submission’ before the court, describing the arrest and trial of his clients as a deliberate attempt to intimidate and violate the fundamental rights of people to freedom of assembly.

Nwosu said the prosecution, the Nigeria Police, failed to produce a credible witness to substantiate the three counts against the IPOB members.

“It is a case where there is a serious intimidation. And the prosecution could not produce a credible witness,” he told the court.

Magistrate  Mukoro, in striking out the case,  held that all the accused persons had no case to answer as the prosecution was unable to institute a prima facie case against them.

Earlier today, a  Federal High Court in Abuja granted bail to the leader of IPOB,  Nnamdi Kanu on health grounds,  subject to meeting the conditions.

Ghost Workers: Anxiety in Bayelsa

There is growing apprehension among workers at the State and Local Government Councils in Bayelsa State following involvement of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences‎ (ICPC) in the renewed verification exercises to tackle issues of wage Bill fraud and ghost workers in the State.
The growing fear,according to Leadership investigations, showed that the involvement of the ICPC in the ongoing screening exercise may lead to sack, arrest and prosecution .
It was gathered that the involvement of the ICPC was based on the request made by the Governor Seriake Dickson administration to put an end to the hyrad issue of ghost workers and wage bill fraud in the service.
While the ICPC and Bayelsa Government partnership has led to a directive that workers in the State and Local Government Councils to fill a data with their bank verification code to dtermine genuine salary account from fake ones.
Also the  State Advisory Committee on Public Service Reforms headed by a Former Military administrator of old Rivers State and the Amanayabo of Twon-Brass, King Diette-Spiff has directed that all educational qualification used to gain employment into the civil service be submitted and screened.
While most of the concerned workers alleged that it may be another means being adopted by the State Government to sack workers due to the inability to pay salary as when due.
Some Government officials told Leadership that the noticeable apprehension over the screening was provoked by some wage Bill fraudsters in the service and that the screening exercise was not meant to witch hunt any genuine workers of the State.
The State Advisory committee on Public Service Reform however confirmed those found guilty of absenteeism and wage Bill fraud would be sanctioned.
The Committee confirmed the possibility of sanctioning state workers found indicted on alleged charges of Absenteeism and Wage Bill fraud,saying those indicted will be sacked from the State Civil Service.
The Chairman of the State Advisory committee on Public Service Reform and the paramount ruler of Twon-Brass Kingdom, HRM King Alfred Diete-Spiff ,who confirmed the proposed sanction during an interactive meeting between members of the State Advisory Committee on Public Service Reforms and relevant stakeholders in Brass Local Council in Twon-Brass,insisted that the ongoing reforms have shown that some workers will be dropped from the Civil Service.
According to Diette-Spiff, “Some workers have to be dropped. We cannot have people that do not work but are receiving salaries. We cannot have people whose names appear in different payment vouchers,”
Spiff, who is also the Chairman of the Bayelsa State Council of Traditional Rulers noted that funds made available to the various councils are supposed to be used for developmental projects and not only for salaries.
He also commended the Brass Local Government Chairman, Hon. Bello Bina for hosting his team as the visit the council area to sensitize the people of Brass particularly civil servants on the merits of the “No Work No Pay” policy.
Also Speaking at the event, the Vice-Chairman of the committee, Chief Francis Doukpola and the Secretary, Dr. Felix Tuodolor stated that any civil servant that does not want to work does not deserve his/her pay, stressing that even private companies do not tolerate such indiscipline/conduct.
Earlier in his speech, the Chairman of Brass Local Government Council, Hon. Bello Bina, commended the State Governor,Hon. Seriake Dickson for the  “No Work No Pay” policy introduced,describing it as a step in the right directionm
According to Bina, the policy  would drastically reduce the number of absentee staff in the council.”
He also maintained that henceforth any staff that flouts the policy will be penalized accordingly.
While speaking on behalf of council workers, the Head of Administration and General Services, Dr. Noel Omubo, averred that the policy is a welcomed development.He assured that all support will be given the Chairman in the implementation of the policy.
Also speaking, the Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Brass Chapter, Comr. ThankGod Singer expressed that any worker that refuses to work will not receive salary.He however urged government to do their part in paying salaries so that workers will be motivated to put in their best.
Credit: Leadership