Bayelsa State Government says, it has lost over N7.04 billion in the last 2 years to a syndicate of payroll fraudsters in the local government councils.

Speaking during a joint press briefing on Thursday in Yenagoa, on the progress of the current reforms in the public service, the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Daniel Iworiso- Markson decried the magnitude of fraud being perpetrated by fraudsters in the sector.

Mr. Iworiso-Markson also described the 70% non-academic staff in the primary schools as unacceptable, stating that, the Governor Seriake Dickson-led administration inherited N1.3 billion local government teachers monthly wage bill, which has been reduced to about N1.027 billion in the last 2 years.

The Information boss noted that, the reforms exercise was a continuous one, pointing out that, tremendous progress had been achieved without which, the local government system would have experienced total collapse.

Mr. Iworiso-Markson who also briefed newsmen on the outcome of the 94th State Executive Council meeting, said henceforth, local government councils would make contributions to the State Education Development Trust Fund.

He also said, the Council decided that, the third tier of the government would be responsible for the training of primary health care workers, stressing that, chairmen are required to retain the number of staff they can pay.

His words: "Henceforth, the various Councils are only to retain the number of workers they can afford to pay. Since the reforms, the Councils have been doing very well and so we believe that Councils are in a better position to pay salaries of their workers.

"It was also agreed that, with effect  from the next academic session, the various Councils are required to contribute to the funding of scholarship programmes, such as PhD, MSC and undergraduates in their Councils and this will be under the Restoration Scholarship Scheme."

In her remarks, Commissioner for Local Government Administration, Mrs. Agatha Goma, noted that, as a result of the verification exercise, there had been consistency in the payment of the salaries of primary school teachers.

According to her, the State Executive Council resolved that, henceforth, local government workers would not be owed their salaries, with the various policies put in place to ensure the smooth administration of the system.

Also speaking, the Commissioner for Education, Hon. Jonathan Obuebite disclosed that, Bayelsa has a total workforce of 15, 433 in public schools, comprising academic and non-academic staff.

According to him, primary schools have 9,316, while the workforce for secondary schools was put at 6,117.

In their presentations, the various Local Government Council Chairmen in the State declared support for the reforms, noting that, the development has reduced their wage bill drastically.

Presenting what they called, facts and figures on workers wage bill from 2016 to date, Southern Ijaw had as its wage bill, N201 million, as against the current N131 million, Ogbia (N207 million to N165), Nembe (N127 million to N99 million) and Brass (N119 to N101 million).

Others are, Ekeremor (N192 million reduced to N177 million), Kolokuma/Opokuma (N109million, now brought down to N77million), Sagbama (N171 million to N130 million) and Yenagoa (N194million to N147 million).

Also in attendance at the briefing were; the Commissioner for Labour, Employment and Productivity, Chief Collins Cocodia, his Health counterpart, Prof. Ebitimitula Etebu, Local Government Council Chairmen and the Special Adviser on Treasury, Revenue and Accounts, Mr. Timipre Seipulo.

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