Bayelsa unveils committee to streamline councils’ financial transactions
Redeploys Permanent Secretary, others
The Bayelsa State Government yesterday unveiled a committee to streamline activities of local councils with regard to their financial transactions. The committee will be chaired by the Deputy Governor, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo.
Ewhrudjakpo disclosed this at an expanded meeting with chairmen of the eight local councils of the state at the Government House in Yenagoa.
Representatives of the state chapters of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC), National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) and directors of treasury, among others, also attended the meeting.
The Deputy Governor expressed displeasure over what he described as, ‘unauthorised fraudulent deductions’ from federal allocation of councils by the Ministry of Local Government Affairs.
He explained that Governor Douye Diri had approved immediate redeployment of the Permanent Secretary and Director of Finance, Ministry of Local Government Affairs and directed the ministry to henceforth make only statutory deductions from the councils’ account.
“We met with local government chairmen, heads of personnel management, directors of finance, leaders, deputy leaders and councilors of the local government councils. We identified certain issues that we were not comfortable with.
“There were a lot of unauthorised fraudulent deductions from the councils’ allocation to the extent that the local government chairmen were not consulted.
“We also established that some councils were seen as big brothers and monies were deducted from them to give to other local governments to pay salaries. But unfortunately, the councils didn’t even get the money. And you will agree with me that no reasonable government will condone such infractions,” he stated.
Ewhrudjakpo also berated council chairmen for borrowing funds to pay workers salaries, stressing that the present administration would not condone such a practice, as councils would be weighed down by loans and inability to fulfill their statutory obligations, particularly payment of salaries.
He admonished the Ministry of Local Government Affairs to stop negotiating loans on behalf of the councils and directed the Auditor General to provide the state government actual receipts from the Federation Account to the Joint Account Allocation Committee within one week.
While directing council chairmen to submit reports of all their revenue allocations from March to date, Ewhrudjakpo said the move was to encourage them to earmark 60 per cent of funds after statutory deductions for capital projects and 40 per cent for recurrent expenditure for the development of their council areas.
Members of the committee are, Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Dr. Konbowei Benson, Chief of Staff, Government House, Benson Agadaga and his Deputy, Dr. Peter Akpe, Acting Chairman, Local Government Civil Service Commission, Uroh Kiani and Auditor General of Local Government Councils, Seiyefa Doumu.