The Bayelsa State Government has distanced itself from the delay in the payment of June salaries of local council’s workers in the state.
The State Deputy Governor, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, made the position of the state government known while speaking at a meeting with former councillors under the aegis of the ‘Restoration Councillors Forum.’
The meeting was held in Yenagoa on Tuesday.
Mr Ewhrudjakpo explained that the delay in payment of the salaries was caused by insufficient funds.
He disclosed that the state government was looking for ways to assist four local councils to pay their June salaries.
“Contrary to unfounded rumours, the state government had not and will not tamper with council’s funds for any reason but rather the present administration supports them financially on a monthly basis.
“Some of the councils currently find themselves in straitened financial circumstances due to high salary bills and servicing of loan facilities,” Mr Ewhrudjakpo said.
“I’m the one interacting with the local government chairmen, so I know what they are passing through. As I talk to you, Ogbia, Nembe, Sagbama and Ekeremor are all in the negative.
“In fact, we are trying to look somewhere to enable them to get funds to pay their salaries and other statutory obligations.
“Right now, part of the councils’ burden is the car loan they collected for their present councillors,” he said.
Mr Ewhrudjakpo expressed displeasure at the councillors’ approach in making their demands, including the threat to shut down the office of the Commissioner for Local Government, Chieftaincy Affairs and Community Development in the state.
While stressing the need for dialogue, he reminded them that the unpaid arrears of their allowances were not owed by the state government but by the various councils.
Mr Ewhrudjakpo assured them that the state government would play a role to ensure their demands are met.
The deputy governor directed a 12-man committee set up by the state government to determine what each local council was owing the former councillors. The committee is to turn in its report next week for deliberations on how best to liquidate the debts.
In their separate presentations, Believe Ezekiel, Tonkumo Igoniware and Joyce West, appealed to the state government to look into their plight, claiming that they were being owed furniture and other allowances while in office.
The former councillors thanked the deputy governor for granting them an audience. They said they had been going through hardship, and as such had to take their case to the state government.
They, however, apologised to the state government over the provocative measures they had taken, especially for threatening to embark on a street protest.
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