By Samuel Oyadongha & Emem Idio
YENAGOA—BEFORE now, council chairmen in Bayelsa State had the proclivity to residing at hotels in Yenagoa, the state capital from where they administer their councils, only to resurface fleetingly during public functions or when monthly allocations were to be shared at their council headquarters.
However, investigations by Niger Delta Voice showed that since Governor Seriake Dickson mandated council chairmen to render monthly accountability stewardship to the people, just as he is doing at the state level, their predilection for operating from outside their councils has reduced.
Also, introduction of the biometric data capture exercise, clock in and clock out device at state government offices, an exercise that was extended to the third tier of government, has helped to eliminate truancy in the system and check cases of absentee and ghost workers.
Although, some of the chairmen do not frequent their councils in spite of the directive, most now spend more time in their area of jurisdiction for fear of incurring the wrath of the state government, which has put in place measures to check their excesses.
An indigene of Southern Ijaw council area, Ebikiye Tubolayefa, told Niger Delta Voice that chairman of the council, Elder Remember Ogbe, still travel from Yenagoa to Oporoma, the council headquarters and urged him to put to a stop to it.
His words: “At least, we have a chairman who spends more time in the council. He has recruited many youths. But the security challenges in the area and activities of oil thieves and illegal refinery operators have remained a problem.
“The truth is that the oil and gas task force he established is helping to rid the area of the menace, but he should stop shuttling between Yenagoa and the council area.”
I spend more
time in Oproroma— Ogbe
The chair, Elder Ogbe, however, said Oporoma is today a peaceful and calm place because he spends more time there and that his administration has brought smile to the face of many.
He said: “When you are doing well, people tend to be jealous and want to tarnish your name. The era of sharing money is over. I have over 600 appointees in the council and we are paying them alongside the council workforce.”
The chairman explained that he was always in his office to perform his official duties and travel to other communities within his council area, adding that when the need arises, he goes to see his family in Yenagoa.
According to him, “My speed boat from Oporoma to Yenagoa takes just 30 minutes because it is 250 horsepower.
“Oporoma today is lively because of the changes we have effected. I have an accommodation well- furnished and always around to carry out my official duties.
“My chairmanship position is a threat to some persons, who are not comfortable with what we are doing to change the face of the council, which is why they are looking for everything to indict me.”
‘I don’t share money with any godfather’
“There is no council that is paying up to 600 appointees. No godfather is sharing money with me; I use the council fund for projects go round every ward we have ward project.
“I have paid 50 per cent of the projects and most of them are getting towards completion.
“We have completed the Governor’s lodge, we are reclaiming a swampy at the back of the council secretariat, where is the money to share. It is because we do not have free money to share that some persons have resorted to blackmailing us.
“The governor has warned that council funds must be judiciously used to impact on the rural people.
“We are constructing road from Amassoma to Otuan, Otuan to Oporoma, Oporoma to Ekowe, to Olugbobiri, we have surveyed the land, paid mobilization and about 9km had been cleared before the contractors stopped due to the flood.
“They promised to continue by November when the water level would have receded.”