Bayelsa State Government has directed that local government chairmen should stop obtaining or servicing loans in the meantime to enable them save for the rainy day.
Deputy Governor, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, disclosed this at a meeting with heads of local government administration, treasurers, directors of finance and coordinators of primary
healthcare in the eight councils of the state.
Ewhrudjakpo, in a statement by his Media Aide, Doubara Atasi, said the directive has become imperative in view of the unjustifiable rationale behind most of the loans already secured by some councils.
The deputy governor, who supervises local governments, also explained that the move was aimed at preparing councils for the impending economic recession that may follow the ravaging coronavirus pandemic.
According to Ewhrudjakpo, the economic outlook of the country portends a grave danger ahead due to the abysmal crash in the price of oil which is the mainstay of the Nigerian economy.
Consequently, he noted that the allocations accruing to the state and local governments would plummet drastically in the next couple of months.
The deputy governor, therefore, charged the heads of local government administration and other stakeholders to take proactive measures that would guarantee the payment of workers’ salaries in the event of any economic meltdown.
‘”I have stopped quite a lot of those deductions and I’ve also told them to stop servicing those loans and that no deductions should be made without clearing with me.
“In the past few months, one of the councils had spent about N316 million on loan servicing. We will not tolerate that.
“I will only authorise the payment of salaries and statutory deductions for pensions and training and perhaps a few other items. Every other money will be intact until they (chairmen) clear with me because we are going through a very precarious situation.
“The economic coronavirus that is coming is going to be more deadly than the COVID-19 pandemic. So, we should all learn for the rainy day. I can assure you that from May, the allocation that will come for all the councils in Bayelsa will not be more than N450 million.”
The deputy governor decried the huge wage bill of Ogbia council where about N70 million is expended monthly on the payment of primary school teachers alone.
He also expressed dismay over the unending monthly financial provisions being made by the Southern Ijaw council to the internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Peremabiri community who are taking refuge in Yenagoa.