National Union of Local Government Employees in Bayelsa State has asked Governor Seriake Dickson to jettison any plan to reappoint caretaker chairmen to administer local councils in the state.
The state’s NULGE chairman, Mr. Akpos Ekiegha during a news conference in Yenagoa that the cost of running the caretaker system amid dwindling federal allocations was responsible for the salary arrears owed council workers in the state.
Ekiegha urged Dickson to allow heads of the local government areas to run the councils as acting chairmen for a period of eight months in order to clear the arrears owed workers in the various councils.
While citing the examples in Cross River and Delta States, the NULGE boss stated, “If they are allowed to run the councils as acting chairmen, there will be nothing like salary arrears..
“If civil servants are allowed to man the system, they know their boundaries. They cannot ask for a security vote of N20m but the caretaker chairman will ask for a security vote of between N20m and N40m.
“They would say there is a security problem in a particular community. Therefore, they will say they need N100m to solve the problem, but we, as civil servants, have a limit. Our main focus is to pay our workers’ salaries and if any money is left, it will be intact.”
He said within the brief period the caretaker chairmen of the eight council areas were relieved of their appointments, coupled with little improvement in federal allocations, backlog of salaries owed council workers had reduced to only four and a half months.
Ekiegha also appealed to Governor Dickson to fulfil his promise that by September, the government would take over the payment of primary school workers from the local governments in order to pay their salaries regularly.
He said the non-payment of the primary school workers by the state government was part of the reasons the state council workers were currently on strike.
Debunking claims that the state government was interfering with local government funds, he said there had never been such. “Rather, the government ensured the judicious use of council allocations,” he said.