Bight Newspaper reports that Governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri, has revealed that the reforms initiated and implemented by his administration led to the saving of the sum of N2.3 billion in the local government councils.

Governor Diri disclosed this on Monday at the opening ceremony of an orientation programme organsed for newly-elected local government chairmen, vice chairmen, councilors and principal officers at Perdis Hotel, Akenfa.

The governor stated that on assumption of office in 2020, some local government councils were highly indebted and unable to pay salaries. But the administration took measures that resulted in regular payment of salaries, execution of projects and saving of funds.

The Bayelsa chief executive restated his call on the Federal Government to create additional local councils in the state, saying it was injustice for some states to have more than 40 councils and receiving monthly allocation from the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee while the state had only eight.

He charged the newly elected local government officials to make good use of the two-day workshop to equip themselves with the requisite knowledge to carry out their responsibilities.

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The governor also called on them to work as a team to ensure that development was felt at the grassroots.

He said: “Local governments as at 2020 were unable to pay salaries, particularly Nembe, Ogbia, Ekeremor and Sagbama. There was some form of dissatisfaction in the system.

“After I went through the recommendations of the Deputy Governor, whom I entrusted with investigating the local government, I wasted no time in approving the recommendations.

“The recommendations included the ban on loans from any source by local government chairmen without approval of the governor, compulsory savings by every council, and the division of balance after payment of salaries into 60 and 40 per cent respectively. One part was for compulsory savings and the other to project implementation and immediate commencement of computerisation of their payroll as well as compulsory quarterly award of projects by each council chairman.

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“We found a lot of fraud in the local government system. But as it stands today, our councils have N2.3billion as a result of the combination of the factors of reforms and proper supervision of that tier of government.

“The breakdown is N400million compulsory savings while N1.9 billion for capital projects. This is aside from the one done by caretaker committees in terms of project execution within the short period they stayed.”

Diri assured of his administration’s commitment to support the councils to achieve their goals, and expressed confidence that the new officials would meet the expectations of the people.

“We firmly believe that good governance begins at the grassroots level. That is precisely why we have gathered here to equip you with the necessary skills and knowledge to improve our local government administration and enhance service delivery.

“I recognise the immense responsibility you have to bear as representatives of the people at the local government level. Remember, you have been entrusted with the mandate to serve and uplift our rural dwellers and communities. I have no doubt that you will work diligently to fulfill this obligation.

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“I urge you, particularly our chairmen, to encourage teamwork, financial probity and prudent expenditure of projects.”

Earlier, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Local Government, Chieftancy and Community Development, Mr. Ifidi Ebiware, urged the new local government officials to avail themselves of the opportunity presented by the training to acquire the knowledge and skills to perform their duties.

Mr. Ebiware also admonished them to justify the confidence reposed in them by implementing people-oriented policies that will impact positively on the people at the grassroots.

He thanked Governor Diri, his deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, the Bayelsa State Independent Electoral Commission and other stakeholders who ensured a hitch-free electoral exercise.

See pictures from the orientation exercise;

 

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