By Okiemute Okpomor
ASABA – Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa said that the sum of N12.319 billion naira would be recovered from public servants who fraudulently falsified their records of service.
Okowa disclosed this in Asaba while receiving the Final Report from the Verification Committee with Chief Nkem Okwuofu as Chairman, he decried falsification of documents and laxity on the part of those who aid and abet such actions in the public service.
He also directed that the over 530 staff who falsify their retirement age or refused to appear before the Verification Committee On Age Discrepancy And Date Of Birth and Employment of Public Officers in Delta State should be expunged from the payroll immediately.
The Governor bemoaned the connivance of staff in the falsification and handling of records especially those that are dead and retired, he directed the Office of the Head of Service to take disciplinary action against the Heads and Directors of affected Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
According to Okowa, “it is quite unfortunate that at this point in time we are still dealing with this situation in our public service where people can still voluntarily work with other people to change their date of birth and date of appointment and it is something that all of us must frown at. I frown at such and I believe that the public service and its management must continuously frown at such an act because it is not possible for any staff to unilaterally change his or her date of birth or appointment, so obviously there is a collusion in the entire system and it worries me that at this point in time this is still ongoing.”
He added, “Head of Service, with effect from today, the 402 absentees have to be disengaged from the payroll completely and the people that are due to retire, must be expunged from the payroll between today and tomorrow, we cannot continue to tolerate this, it is very unfortunate that we continue to see people who are dead and are still receiving salaries, it is very unsettling and I do not know what the reporting system is, when someone is dead he/she is dead and the name must be removed immediately.”
On laxity, the Governor has this to say, “I think that there is a lot of laxity in the entire system and we must find a way to improve on the workability of the system and people must be held liable and disciplined if they do not do their duties; the Permanent Secretaries, the directors are there, so henceforth any place we find such laxity, the people at the head including the permanent secretary or the director must be disciplined otherwise such acts will continue and it should not be because it is very embarrassing to see people that have died over three years ago still receiving salaries.”
The governor commended the Committee for the exercise and assured them that government would implement their recommendations for the betterment of the civil service.
Earlier, while presenting the report, Okwuofu, Chairman, Civil Service Commission and chairman, of the Verification Committee disclosed that a total of 4,742 persons were screened, out of which 1,695 were cleared, 137 were asked to proceed on retirement, 810 had their dates of birth and employment corrected and 2,085 verified and affirmed while 402 were absent.
She disclosed with the correction of dates of birth of some staff in the payroll who ought to have retired but, for the falsification of records and others whose dates of birth were altered though not within retirement age, the exercise has resulted in total financial gains of N12,319,762,921.20 naira for the state government.
Meanwhile, Mr Charles Aniagwu, Chief Press Secretary to the Governor has disclosed how the State Government spent the N10bn it recently received from the Federal government as part of the Paris Club excess loan deduction refunds.
Responding to a question on a radio Programme, “Trend Talk” aired by Trend 100.9FM, Asaba, Mr. Aniagwu disclosed that out of the N10 billion, the twenty-five Local Governments Councils in the state were given N2.1bn as their statutory share while about N5bn was set aside to settle certain issues relating to certain aspect of salary arrears, co-operative deductions and pensions adding that N2 billion plus was earmarked for priority projects that require urgent attention and payments of contractors.
Mr. Aniagwu noted that the Okowa led administration was committed to the prudent, transparent and accountable management of the state’s resources just as he is committed to taking decisions that will be in the best interest of the people.
According to Mr. Aniagwu, “Governor Okowa has vowed to remain prudent, transparent and accountable to the people because he realises that the ultimate political power rests on the people who overwhelmingly voted him into office. Deltans will get value for every money that accrues to the state at all times.”
While answering another questions bothering on the payment of local government workers salaries, the Governor’s Spokesman stated that local governments are a separate tier of government, adding that the State Government is not responsible for the payment of their salaries, adding, “even though we assisted them in the past, we couldn’t continue in the present economic circumstance as we have our own challenges because a man cannot give what he doesn’t have”.
Justifying the setting aside of about N3bn for infrastructure and payment of contractors, Mr. Aniagwu stressed that government exists for everybody and not just for the payment of salaries of workers which are less than 2 percent of the population of the state, he spoke further, “if the government spends virtually all that comes to pay salaries of workers, what happens to the larger chunk of the population?”
He assured that the State Government with the support from the Nigeria Society of Engineers will tackle headlong the flooding of Asaba while also reiterating the government’s commitment to completing the Okpanam road, DLA and Mariam Babangida roads.