ODAHIEKWU OGUNDE, Yenagoa
The Bayelsa State Government has said it will institutionalise a peer review system among the eight local government councils to measure their performances in key areas of development.
The state’s Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, stated this on Wednesday when he granted audience to the Bayelsa Councillors’ Forum at his office in Government House, Yenagoa.
The Deputy Governor in a statement by his media aide, Mr Doubara Atasi, expressed optimism that the measure would promote healthy competition, better service delivery and development of the third tier of government in the state.
Ewhrudjakpo said the performance evaluation exercise would be conducted every six months, adding that the first of such review might be carried out before the end of the tenure of the current elected chairmen and councilors in August this year.
He insisted that the peer review would spur the various local government councils to perform better in critical aspects of development, including infrastructure, human capital development, and internally generated revenue (IGR).
Describing the local government as the most important tier of government in the country, Senator Ewhrudjakpo disclosed that the Bayelsa State Government had since granted financial autonomy to the local councils.
This, according to the Deputy Governor, was part of efforts at repositioning the councils to enable them execute their statutory responsibilities such as prompt payment of salaries and provision of some basic social amenities.
Commenting on the concerns raised by the councilors, his office would liaise with the local government ministry and the chairmen to tackle the issue of severance allowance as well as unpaid sitting and furniture allowances being owed by some councils.
Senator Ewhrudjakpo, who commended the present crop of councillors for their show of understanding and patience, urged them to sustain their calm disposition and support to the Governor Douye Diri-led administration.
Speaking earlier, the Chairman of the Bayelsa State Councillors Forum, Hon. Prince Okenema, thanked the Deputy Governor for taking the initiative to change the narrative in local government administration in the state in a positive light.
Okenema, however, appealed to the Deputy Governor to prevail on local government chairmen to clear unpaid allowances including their retirement benefits before they bow out of office in August this year.