Less than a week after Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State handed over gubernatorial duties to his deputy to go on vacation, civil servants in the state have mounted pressure on the Acting Governor, Gboribiogha John Jonah, to settle their salary arrears accruing up to six months.
Both Bayelsa State civil servants and local government workers are owed salaries since 2016. Our correspondent gathered that in some local government areas, government employees have not been paid for up to sixteen months.
Addressing reporters on Thursday, Mr. Jonah admitted that he was under pressure to pay the workers’ salaries.
He confessed that before he left his office for the briefing, he received a text message from one of the aggrieved workers urging him, “You are now Acting Governor, pay us.”
Mr. Jonah explained,“It was not the governor that was stopping workers' pay. It is money not available. If the money is available, I will pay, but when it is not there, there is nothing we can do.
“Bayelsa people must try to understand our predicament. It is not only for us; it’s a very bad time for the country, a bad time for the state and a bad time for the local governments. But whatever we can do, we will do,” he said.
Mr. Jonah also said negotiations are ongoing between the state government and local government staff to avert the strike being planned by the workers.