Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
After 14 months in the saddle, the Bayelsa State Governor, Mr. Seriake Dickson last Wednesday night sacked all the eight local government areas caretaker committee Chairmen in the state who were inaugurated in April last year.
The governorâ€™s action also coincided with disagreements among the national leadership of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), the state branch and the Bayelsa government as to how many months salary arrears are owed the council workers.
While the National President, Mr. Ibrahim Khaleel, alleged that the state owed about 16 months, the state Chairman of the body, Mr. Akpos Ekeigha, said workers were owed 14 months, while Dr. Agatha Goma, the Commissioner for Local Government Administration, said the indebtedness stood at nine and a half months.
But Khaleelâ€™s report which put Bayelsa and Kogi as the most indebted states in the federation, the state government and Bayelsa branch of NULGE said was not without errors.
â€œThe least is eights and half months and the highest is Ogbia 14 months. There was a mix-up. For Ogbia Local Government Area, they calculated two halves as full months and used it to send a text message to the national headquarters of NULGE,â€ Ekeigha said.
On the figure released by the state, he added: â€œI think the commissioner was talking as at when she assumed duties. For her period, the arrears are 10 and a half months.â€
But the state government insisted that the indebtedness to council workers in Bayelsa State stood at nine and half months.
â€œThe claim is not true. The local government councils in the state owe nine and half months salary with the exception of Ogbia Local Government Area, whose debt is 10 and half months in salary arrears,â€ Goma said.
It wasnâ€™t clear why the local council bosses were fired, but it was gathered that it might not be unconnected with the parlous state of their accounts, with the governor stressing to have always given them a free hand to operate.
The statement sacking the chairmen released by the governorâ€™s spokesman, Mr. Daniel Iworiso-Markson, asked the chairmen to hand over to the Heads of Administration.
â€œHis Excellency, Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson, Governor of Bayelsa State has approved the dissolution of the caretaker committees of the eight local government areas in the state. This is with immediate effect.â€