Bayelsa State Government says it has directed local government council chairmen to stop obtaining or servicing loans in the meantime to enable them save for the rainy day.
The state Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence EWHRUDJAKPO disclosed this at a meeting with heads of local government administration, treasurers, directors of finance and coordinators of primary healthcare in the eight local councils of the state.
Senator Ewhrudjakpo in a statement by his media aide, Mr Doubara Atasi, said the directive has become imperative in view of the unjustifiable rationale behind most of the loans already secured by some councils in the state.
The deputy Governor who supervises local governments in the state, also explained that the move waa aimed at preparing councils for the impending economic recession that may follow the ravaging coronavirus pandemic.
According to Senator Ewhrudjakpo, the economic outlook of the country portends a grave danger ahead due to the abysmal crash in the price of oil which is the mainstay of the Nigerian economy.
Consequently, he noted that the allocations accruing to the state and local governments would plummet drastically in the next couple of months.
The Deputy Governor therefore charged the heads of local government administration and other stakeholders to take proactive measures that would guarantee the payment of workers salaries in the event of any economic meltdown.
As part of such measures, Senator Ewhrudjakpo said government has already ordered the stoppage of what he described as not-too-important allowances and deductions being made by chairmen of councils.
His words, “I have stopped quite a lot of those deductions and I’ve also told them to stop servicing those loans and that no deductions should be made without clearing with me. In the past few months, one of the local government councils had spent about N316 million on loan servicing. We will not tolerate that.
“I will only authorize the payment of salaries and statutory deductions for pensions and training and perhaps a few other items. Every other money will be intact until they (chairmen) clear with me because we going through a very precarious situation.
“The economic coronavirus that is coming is going to be more deadly than the COVID-19 pandemic. So we should all learn for the rainy day. I can assure you that from the month of May this year the allocation that will come for all the LGAs in Bayelsa will not be more than N450 million.”
The Deputy Governor decried the huge wage bill of Ogbia Local Government Council where about N70 million is expended monthly on the payment of primary school teachers alone.
He also expressed dismay over the unending monthly financial provisions being made by the Southern Ijaw council to the internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Peremabiri community who are taking refuge in Yenagoa.
While calling on community leaders to work with security agencies to rein in criminals in their domains, he said government would soon stop providing relief materials to the Peremabiri IDPs to serve as a deterrent.
The Deputy Governor urged the administrators and treasurers to key into the present administration’s vision of repositioning the local government system for efficient service delivery in the state.
In his remarks, the President, National Union of Local Government Employees, Bayelsa State Chapter, Comrade Akpos Ekiyeagha expressed appreciation to Senator Ewhrudjakpo for convening the meeting to chart the way forward for local government administration in the state.
Comrade Ekiyeagha who doubles as the treasurer of Yenagoa local government council, also assured the deputy Governor of their readiness to support the policies and programmes of the present administration.