The Bayelsa Government on Sunday said that the N3 billion naira loan for purchase of cars for state lawmakers and security agencies was a necessity and not a misplaced priority.
The Bayelsa House of Assembly on Tuesday, in a closed-door session, approved a N3 billion loan request from the executive arm to purchase cars for legislators and security agencies.
The development attracted criticisms from civil servants in the state, who said that seeking a loan to purchase the cars at a time the state government owed workers some six months’ salary arrears was insensitive.
Jonathan Obuebite, Commissioner for Information, however told the News Agency of Nigeria that reports that the government was taking the loan to purchase cars for political appointees were inaccurate.
“The notion that Bayelsa government obtained N3 billion to buy cars and distribute to political appointees is not correct. The fact is that a component of the facility is to provide cars for the Assemblymen while the rest will go to the security outfits.
“Actually we are not taking the loan in one fell swoop, the N3 billion is actually the total sum that will be taken over a three-year span, but the executive consolidated the figures so that we won’t have to be going back and forth to seek approval.
“So it is based on a plan to provide patrol cars for the security services like the Police, Civil Defence, Joint Task Force, Air force and Navy. They all need operational vehicles to deliver effective security service to our people.
“Indeed the component for the legislators is relatively small and it is deductible from their emoluments, ” Mr. Obuebite said
The Commissioner dismissed the views that the car loan was a misplaced priority given the six months salary arrears owed workers in the state.
He said although the state was indebted to civil servants, there were plans to clear the backlog as the state has set up a committee to work out plans to pay the arrears.
“I don’t think there is anyone we owe up to six months. We are all witnesses to the economic downturn affecting the country, some states are owing more than 12 months but we have informed workers of our plans to clear all outstanding,” Mr. Obuebite said.