The Bayelsa State Government on Thursday said 27,000 ghost and illegal workers had so far been discovered in the payrolls of the state and the local government areas.
The Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Daniel Iworiso-Markson, said the ongoing public sector reforms in the state led to the bizarre discovery.
The commissioner, who spoke in Sagbama, Sagbama Local Government Area, at the ongoing town hall meeting on reforms, explained that the development had brought the state’s workforce from 56,000 to 27,000 workers.
Crowd of stakeholders from Sagbama, the local government area of Governor Seriake Dickson attended the meeting and unanimously through voice votes endorsed the ongoing reforms in the state.
Iworiso-Markson said: “Look at what has happened through the reforms. From 54,000 workers, with reforms we are now 27,000 workers in the entire state. It means that the difference of about 27,000 workers is fake people.
“Since 1996 that the state was created, it is only now that we are realizing that our state is being shortchanged. It means that billions of naira has entered into the pockets of some people. They are the people fighting these reforms.
“The people against these reforms are those who are taking advantage of our collective wealth and appropriating it into their own personal pockets and putting all of us including the state in this terrible mess. When you hear them criticize the reforms, take note of them, it is very possible they are those shortchanging the state”
The commissioner also lamented that some persons purchased their employments by paying between N250, 000 and N500, 000.
He told the people of the council that the boldness and passion of their son had liberated Bayelsa adding that God raised Dickson for the purpose of sanitizing the state.
Addressing the stakeholders, he said: “Your son has liberated us. God deliberately raised Governor Dickson for this purpose to clean up this system. Anybody that is embarking on reforms cannot be popular.
“But Governor Dickson is not the kind of man that is looking for popularity. If you look for popularity you will not do the right thing. If you look for popularity, this mess will continue. My happiness is that all of us in attendance today are all in agreement that this reform must continue”.
The commission further decried a situation where a syndicate perfected fraudulent means of collecting salaries of 35 persons by raising employment letters of real persons without their knowledge.
Explaining how the syndicate operated, he said: “Until these reforms, you have people working in our civil service and the local government. One man would have almost like 35 people and he is drawing their salaries. Those people are real.
“They have letters of employments but they don’t know because this one man included the names of his brothers, sisters, nephews and others. There were letters but they didn’t know they were employed in the local government and this one man is drawing their salary.
“When we started the reforms, when this particular man noticed they were coming to verify and they would be asking questions, he called all those people whose names were on the payroll and told them that their local government had just given them employment.
He told them to come and do verifications. Those people were surprised when they looked at their letter and discovered that their letters were backdated to five years ago. It means that the man has been collecting their salaries for the past five years. That was how bad it was and the reforms came to stop it”.
Explaining the gains of the reforms, the Caretaker Committee Chairman, Sagbama, Michael Magbisa said the council had so far saved N13m monthly from council’s workers’ salaries.
He said about 42 dead persons were removed from the council’s teaching sector adding that N28m was being saved monthly from the teachers’ salaries.
He said the health workers’ salaries also reduced from N57m to N56m following some adjustments rectifications abnormalities in the health sector.
In his remarks, the Secretary-General, Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Worldwide, Alfred Kemepado hailed the governor for implementing the reforms saying the process came to address the problems in Bayelsa.
Insisting that the reforms would create opportunities for the youths, Kemepado said the governor was only correcting the wrong foundation laid by his predecessors following the creation of the state.
“The governor is doing what others could not do. Let us applaud him”, he said adding that Dickson also introduced human face to the process by his declaration that no genuine worker would be sacked.
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