The Bayelsa State Government has said it is saving about N3.2billion monthly through a reform of its public service.
The Secretary to the Bayelsa State Government, Kemela Okara, said the reforms which began around last September slashed the wage bills from N6.7billion to N2.9billion.
The figure rises to N3.5billion when the N600 million subvention given to the Niger Delta University (NDU) is included.
Okara, who spoke to journalists in Lagos on Monday, said Governor Seriake Dickson was determined to flush out the culprits of payroll fraud, truancy, multiple employment and related vices from the state’s civil service.
He assured Bayelsans that the reforms were not a witch-hunt and sued for the understanding and cooperation of those who would be affected in the process of building a virile public service.
He said Dickson, who is in the second year of his second term in office, set up a Public Sector Reform Committee to that would streamline the service for prudent and optimal performance.
According to him, the committee made several startling discoveries, through biometrics and other measures adopted in the fight against payroll fraud and other fraudulent practices.
Okara said the committee’s suspicion was aroused when it discovered that attendance rate among public servants “was less than 50 per cent. So, where are the other workers?”
This, he noted, indicated that they were ghost workers on the payroll put there by “entrenched interests.”
He said other fraudulent practices included securing of employment with forged certificates, collection of salaries from multiple agencies of government, indefensible promotions in contradiction to civil service rules; pension fraudsters, age falsifiers, among others.
He cited the example of the state-owned Niger Delta University (NDU) as a classic case where the number of non-academic staff was far higher than their academic counterparts.
“The ratio of academic staff to non-academic staff was about one teacher to three non-academic staff.”
Nevertheless, Okara said Dickson had assured that there would not be a mass retrenchment, rather some staff in bloated parastatals would be redeployed to other areas of the civil service.
He said the rumour that Dickson was on a mission to the Niger Delta University was untrue.
According to him, the NDU was still the most funded institution in the state with a subvention òf N350 million per month from the state coffers.
Okara also gave the example of a Bayelsa Transport Company with a staff strength of 300 but with no vehicles.
“The objective is not to kick people out of jobs,” Okara noted.
He added: “The reforms should take about six months, but these entrenched interests keep fighting back.”
Dickson, Okara said, had appointed a special prosecutor to identify and prosecute the perpetrators of the scam.
He said prosecutions would begin as soon as fail-proof evidence was gathered.