Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
The Bayelsa State Government has again bemoaned the depth of the decay in the stateâ€™s civil service with the revelation that many persons between the ages of 80 and 85 years were caught still drawing salaries from the ministries and agencies.
Mr. Daniel Iworiso-Markson, Commissioner for Information and Orientation, who spoke in Kaiama, Kolokuma/Opokuma council, in continuation of the town hall meeting on the ongoing reforms in the stateâ€™s civil service, said the rot in the state was unimaginable.
Present at the stakeholders meeting were cabinet members, monarchs, federal and state lawmakers, rights groups, youth groups, among others.
He said that in a situation whereby octogenarians failed to leave the stage for the youth to get employment, the system would buckle under the weight of corruption.
â€œThe pension system in the state is as rotten as you can ever imagine. We are paying N500m monthly for pensions. It is only in Bayelsa that pensioners donâ€™t die. And so, when you expect that the pension wage bill will come down, it remains at a level where it is.
â€œRight now, committees will be going to all our communities with the support of everybody, particularly our monarchs, to identify those pensioners in the communities. We will now undertake pay-as-you-go so that the right pensioners will be captured,â€ he said.
He added: â€œThe pension bill is too big and nobody is dying. Since 2012 till now, no pensioner has died, because when anybody dies, somebody elseâ€™s name is already there, collecting the salary. The governor has set up a special committee to tackle this problemâ€.
Iworiso-Markson, who reiterated that reforms all over the world are painful but necessary, said in Bayelsa, the government had introduced a human face to it.
In his remarks, the Caretaker Chairman, KOLGA, Mr. Wisdom Fafi, commended Governor Dickson for the reforms.
â€œThe council was paying close to N120m as salaries of workers. But with the reforms, we are now paying N80m. What this means is that we are gaining over N40m monthly. With this state of affairs, the council has no more problem with payment of workers salariesâ€, he said.
Paramount ruler of Opokuma Kingdom, King Okpoitari Diongoli, urged the government to execute the reforms with the milk of kindness.
He was particularly irked by the report of an account officer in a local government that was collecting the salaries of over 300 workers, saying that the official was not only sick but desired to be evaluated.
He called on the government not only to arrest the culprit but also to make him refund all the money he had stolen from the system.