ODAHIEKWU OGUNDE, Yenagoa
Bayelsa State Governor Douye Diri has directed that all incoming local government bosses in the state should reside in their council headquarters to enable them to perform effectively and be closer to their people.
The directive came ahead of the expiration of tenure of current council chairmen on August 14, 2022.
Before this directive, a majority of the council chairmen in the state preferred to live in Yenagoa, the state capital, and abandoned their headquarters where they visited occasionally.
Diri gave the directive on Tuesday during the inauguration of the chairman’s new office complex at Ekeremor, headquarters of the LGA as part of the legacy projects executed by council chairmen across the state.
The governor also appealed to the people to cooperate and support council chairmen to deliver on their mandates.
Diri stated: “Let me inform all those that would take over the leadership of the third tier of government that as the policy of this administration, all local government chairmen must stay in their respective domains.
“I appeal to the elders and all other stakeholders to support the local government administration to enable them to perform their duties in line with the Nigerian Constitution.”
While commending the Ekeremor council chairman, Dr. Bertola Perekeme, for completing projects in all 12 wards in the area, Diri underscored the need to execute people-oriented projects to reduce rural-urban migration.
He noted: “We are happy that our council chairmen are now performing. If you have electricity, potable water, good roads and other social amenities, there will be no need moving to urban areas.
“As a government, we will continue to do those things that will impact the people living in our communities.”
Responding to the requests of the chairman, Diri directed the Works and Infrastructure Commissioner, Moses Teibowei, to include the Ekeremor Secondary School in the next State Universal Education Board (SUBEB) contract award towards addressing its renovation and the twin problems of flooding and erosion threatening the institution.
He equally directed the Works Commissioner to ensure the award of contract for the construction of a pavilion at Ekeremor as well as a link road at Isampou community.
The governor also directed the Commissioner for Local Government, Chieftaincy Affairs and Community Development, Chief Thompson Amule, to ensure the immediate and even disbursement of funds meant for the empowerment scheme across the 105 wards in the state irrespective of political affiliation.
In his remarks, chairman of the Ekeremor council, Dr. Bertola Perekeme, appreciated the state government for its supervision over the councils through the Deputy Governor’s Office, which he said had raised the level of achievements in the council.
Perekeme noted that between August 2019 and February 2020, the Ekeremor council was only able to pay salaries through the benevolence of sister councils.
He said as a result of that, by February 2020, a total of N253.5 million was deducted at source to offset inherited debts.
According to him, due to the reforms in the local government system, Ekeremor had made savings of over N131.4 million after payment of statutory obligations in addition to the N90 million set aside for defraying debts incurred by the previous administration.
Perekeme equally noted that N15 million had been earmarked for payment of arrears of workers in 2016, assuring them that payment would commence soon.