Governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Douye Diri, has said the projects executed by local government councils in the state were as a result of the financial autonomy they enjoy under his administration.
Senator Diri stated this on Tuesday during the commencement of inauguration of projects in seven of the eight councils in the state.
Speaking while inaugurating a one-storey office complex at the Yenagoa local government secretariat, the governor also said that the prudent management of funds under the strict supervision of his deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, made the execution of meaningful projects possible across the wards and communities in the eight councils.
He stressed that his administration does not tamper with allocations accruing to the councils but has rather been assisting them with N100 million on a monthly basis for payment of salaries.
His words: “We are in full support of autonomy for the local government system. When we came in, we discovered that the local government system had a lot of challenges. Across the country, you are all aware that most state governments had been accused of dabbling into local governments funds.
“But in our state, I like to put on record that this administration led by me has never requested for one naira from the local government system. The chairmen can attest to that. Rather the state government assists local governments when they have challenges.
“Local governments in Bayelsa State have been truly autonomous and have been doing their own thing. That is why we have gathered for a ceremony like this.”
According to the governor, the same council chairmen that said they were unable to pay salaries now have savings.
“I can tell you that the Yenagoa Local Council chairman is going to hand over more than N100 million to the incoming chairman.”
While commending the council chairmen for keying into his vision and the successful completion of legacy projects, Diri however cautioned them against engaging in last minute employment of workers as their tenure expires next month.
He assured them that their severance allowances would be made available to them and also hinted that plans were ongoing to set aside funds from the councils savings for the payment of gratuity of local government retirees.
“Our chairmen are about to exit. We have the issue of backlog of severance allowances. This group that is exiting, there is already money made available for severance payment.
“We plan to commence the compulsory payment of what is due to the local government councils. To that effect, on monthly basis, N5million has been approved for that payment to local government councils.”
Diri also inaugurated projects in Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area (KOLGA), which included a model motor park at Kaiama equipped with market stalls, offices and borehole.
Also inaugurated were a divisional police headquarters in Kaiama and a concrete road linking the council’s secretariat.
The governor also paid an unscheduled visit to the permanent orientation site of the National Youth Service Corps at Kaiama.
While inspecting the KOLGA Skills Acquisition Centre, Diri directed all council chairmen to set up skills aquisition centres as well as directing the construction of walkways, two additional hostels and renovation of the NYSC Camp Clinic.
Earlier, the Yenagoa council chairman, Nimizuo Oroupaye, said he embarked on the office complex project to mitigate the plight of workers, who lacked office space.
Oroupaye listed some of the projects completed to include construction of concrete walkway at Biseni and Agudama/Ekpetiama, renovation of Igbogene market, rehabilitation of solar water project, Bomoundi, renovation of the Okolobiri and Gbarain markets.
Also in his address, the Kolokuma/Opokuma Council boss, Dengiye Ubarugu, appreciated the governor for his role in making the local government system functional.
Ubarugu attested that the state government had not meddled in the finances of his council, which he noted was largely responsible for the successes achieved.
Some of the projects completed include mini neighborhood water projects at Ekpuwari, Ofonibiri, Boro Town road, Oloibiri, Kaiama, Abuwari, Ayibabiri and Kalama communities.
Also a concrete road at Igbedi, construction of Odi market, construction of foodsstuff market at Sampou, renovation of Proctor Memorial Primary School, Kaiama and printing of exercise books for primary schools in the council.