By Emmanuel AddehÂ in Yenagoa
The Bayelsa State Government saidÂ on FridayÂ that there was no going back on the current reforms to rid the state of suspected payroll fraudsters in the civil service in the state.Â
Also, yesterday officials of the state government led by Governor Seriake Dickson’s Chief of Staff, Mr. Talford Ongolo and the Commissioner for Education, Mr. Jonathan Obuebite, had a heated meeting with protesting leaders of Amassoma, Southern Ijaw, where the Niger Delta University is located.Â
Those affected by the removal of their names from the payroll, mostly aged women, had in the last few days embarked on a sit-out in the university town, blocking the access roads to the institution.
Â But a statement signed by the Commissioner for Education, after the meeting noted that the reforms had come to stay despite unfounded rumours that the government was carrying out the exercise with the intention to witch-hunt some persons.Â
Obuebite insisted that those whose names were removed from the payroll were persons who did not have the required qualification and those who have passed their retirement age.
According to him, the government had supported those affected by the cleansing by approving three months salary in lieu of notice and had set up a judicial panel for those with genuine cases.
Â While commending the steps taken so far by the governing council and management of the NDU, the government said the new measures would prevent fraud and wastage in the civil service.
Â â€œNow the state government can channel funds to provide infrastructure in all the institutions rather than spend it on salaries alone. Those who are due for retirement would be taken off the system so that the younger generation can fill up the space, which is the most appropriate thing to doâ€, Obuebite said.Â
He announced that the government would after the exercise, set up a committee that would collate the names of all those affected from the various institutions and do a review for those persons with genuine claims and are still active to be engaged in other government sectors.Â
â€œThis is a proof that the government empathises with them but stands with what is right. Nay-Sayers should desist from cheap and negative talk and rather support the government to make Bayelsa a better State,â€ he added.
The government called on host communities to work with the management of the different institutions, maintaining that tertiary institutions are centres of learning and research and not a social security establishment.