Sylva Seeks Dickson's Resignation Over Pension Probe
SAN FRANCISCO, July 22, (THEWILL) – A former governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Timipre Sylva has urged the incumbent governor of the state, Henry Seriake Dickson, to resign from his position saying he is sick and tired of Dickson blaming him for his “incompetence and failure” in governing the state.
Sylva’s outburst is coming barely 3 days after Dickson announced plans to constitute a judicial commission of inquiry to probe Sylva for allegedly not paying pensions from 2007-2012, when he ceased to be governor of the oil-rich Niger Delta State.
Sylva however denied the charge in a statement by Doifie Buokoribo, his Media Adviser.
“At a so-called Transparency Briefing at the weekend, newspaper reports quote Dickson as claiming that the Bayelsa State Government under Chief Timipre Sylva never paid pensions to retirees for five years. He claims further that his administration inherited unpaid pension arrears of over N4 billion. Consequently, he would like to establish a Judicial Commission of Inquiry to probe Sylva.
“We are sick and tired of Dickson’s governance style of always blaming Chief Timipre Sylva for his incompetence and failure. We call upon Dickson to resign now since he has shown that the job for which he was imposed on the people of Bayelsa State is bigger than him. Failing which the people of Bayelsa State should exercise their civic duty to remove him from office using all available constitutional options,” the statement said.
The release further said, “Dickson’s claim about non-payment of pensioners from May 2007- January 2012 is scandalous, petty and irresponsible. This is clear for the following reasons:
“When Sylva took over as Governor of Bayelsa State from Dr Goodluck Jonathan, there were outstanding pension and gratuity arrears, and no noise was made about it. As a leader, Sylva took responsibility on the conviction that government is a continuum. Pensioners were paid along with people still in service, promptly and monthly. Those who retired from service at the time also received their gratuity once the appropriate documentations were done. Not even Sylva’s opponents could accuse him of non-payment of salaries and pensions. By our records, the state government paid an average of N216 million monthly and about N2.6 billion per annum on pensions.
“If nobody protested over non-payment of pension for five years, it means pensioners as well as labour in Bayelsa were satisfied with the Sylva administration.
“Why is Dickson restricting his pension probe to the period from 2007- 2012? Why not commence from the beginning of civilian rule in the state in 1999? Why the obsession with Sylva?
“Dickson has been in office since February 2012. In April 2012, he set up a kangaroo 11-person Financial Management Review Committee headed by Mr Ndutimi Alaibe to probe Sylva. Yet, Dickson is only just realising - in July 2013 – that pension funds were mismanaged from 2007-2012.
“Dickson says it has come to his knowledge that the pension thieves in Bayelsa State used the stolen funds to build hotels and buy exotic cars. Meaning that he already knows who these criminals are. So, why set up a Judicial Commission of Inquiry?
“Dickson and his master at the top have run out of options in the schizoid attempt to ruin the political career of Sylva hence the decision to set up this Judicial Commission of Inquiry. By working to the answer, they would like the Commission to indict Sylva having failed in their previous attempts with the Alaibe Committee, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
“Under Dickson, Bayelsa State has suffered a severe governance deficit. By all indications, Dickson is interested only in power and not the responsibility that goes with the high office he was brought to occupy. Having struggled to hide his lack of capacity under the name of Sylva and seen clearly that this strategy is no longer workable, the only option left for Dickson is to resign now.”