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Bayelsa spends N10b on arrears of minimum wage, gratuity *Saves N800 million from staff audit

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Bayelsa state government has said it paid out a whopping N10 billion as arrears of the N18,000 minimum wage and pension inherited from the Timipreye Sylva administration.

The government said it has also saved over N800 million over the past two years in savings by weeding out ghost workers on its payroll.

Chief press secretary to Governor Seriake Dickson, Mr. Daniel Iworiso-Markson told that the governor believes that a worker is worthy of his wages, hence the resolve to plug all holes that have constituted a drain on its purse.

“Governor Dickson believes that workers who have worked should be paid accordingly. We therefore have no place for ghost and absentee workers,” he said.

“We have reduced the state's monthly wage bill from over N5 billion, when we came on board, to less N4.4b for the workers, pensioners and political appointees. Thus saved over N800 million in two years,” added the spokesman.

He explained that current wage bill of NN4.4 included over five biannual promotions for workers and their salary arrears.

According to the CPS, the state government has spent over N6billion clearing the backlog of the N18,000 minimum wage debt owed workers by the Sylva administration.

“Another N4 billion arrears on gratuities carried over from the previous government is also being paid by this government,” remarked the CPS.

The payments by the Dickson administration, remarked Iworiso-Markson, was a demonstration of the administration's commitment to the well-being of its workers.

He dismissed as false allegations that the recently introduced biometric exercise was designed to witch-hunt certain workers, stressing, “no worker has complained of victimization or that his or her legitimate earnings have not been paid.”

The CPS wondered aloud why the biometric exercise that was commonplace worldwide, would become a subject of controversy in Bayelsa State.

He denied reports that N5 million was being paid to the biometrics contractor per local government area, saying the benefits of the exercise to the state far outweighs the cost.

Iworison-Markson explained that the biometrics exercise is not blind to workers who have legitimate reasons to be off their duty posts.

He described opponents of the biometrics as members of the syndicate the exercise has blocked from feeding fat on the millions generated from ghost workers.

“We knew they would fight back. It is no longer business as usual. Having stopped the free millions they make every month, you don't expect them to give you a hug. They are like a beheaded serpent, and they would continue to spew venom,” he declared.