Bayelsa approves payment of N8.3bn arrears to ex-councilors

Bayelsa State Government has approved the payment of N8.316 billion allowances owed to former councillors popularly known as Restoration Councilors who served from 2013 to 2016.

Chairmen of the eight local government councils have been directed to commence instalment payment of the arrears not later than August this year.

Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, deputy governor, gave the directive at the weekend during a meeting with the council chairmen and representatives of the Restoration Councillors’ Forum in Government House, Yenagoa.

The money was owed to the ex-councillors during the tenure of the former governor, Henry Seriake Dickson and the payment would be a huge drain on the allocations to local councils as the state government has been augmenting their monthly allocations.

Ewhrudjakpo said that after careful consideration of the current financial position of the councils, the government and the Ebiere Igodo Adeh-led committee jointly agreed on the payment of a monthly instalment of N100,000 to each of the former councillors

He assured that it would be increased to N200,000 any month the councils receive improved allocations in order to shorten the repayment period.

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Faulting some of the monetary claims presented by the councillors, he noted that slight adjustments were made as available records revealed that some of them had received overpayments before leaving office.

“For the councillors, what is owed each of you is N2.2 million as against the N2.280 million which you presented in your report. Again some of the figures you claimed that you had been paid in some of the LGAs showed that some of you were overpaid,” he said.

“For example, in Southern Ijaw Local Government, you claimed that you were paid N150,000, but the records showed that you were paid N250,000 at a time. So the amounts have been reviewed.

“The total amount owed by Brass is N11.7 million as against the N12.7 million you presented. For Ekeremor, the amount was reviewed from N25.8 million to N24.8 million while that of Kolokuma/Opokuma from N23.7 million to N22.7 million and that of Nembe from N17.8 million to N16.4 million.

“The figure for Ogbia was reviewed from N27.9 million to N26.8 million; Sagbama from N28.2 million to N26.9 million; Southern Ijaw from N36.5 million to N30 million, and Yenagoa from N32.2 million to N30.9 million.

To ensure uniformity and compliance with the mode of payment by all the councils, he assured the former councillors that the payments would be tied to the monthly Joint Account Allocations Committee (JAAC) approvals.

While expressing gratitude to the ex-lawmakers for their patience and maturity, the Ewhrudjakpo urged them to forward their bank account details to their respective councils for e-payment of the agreed monthly instalments.

Responding on behalf of the Restoration Councillors’ Forum, Believe Ezekiel, thanked the state government and the council chairmen for their prompt response and show of understanding towards their plight.

The forum particularly appreciated the Deputy Governor for his fatherly disposition and pledged their continued support to the present administration.