|Comrade Ebiserikumoh Gbassa|
Human and People's Rights Activist
|Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson|
Governor of Bayelsa
|Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John-Jonah|
Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State
Noticing Golden Pen Press crew at a distance the astute Comrade Gbassa, who is also an anti-corruption campaigner, announced that he came to call on the Bayelsa State Government to pay the salaries of workers without further delay.
Speaking in anger, Comrade Gbassa said he was not happy with the Seriake Government which after receiving the Paris Club refunds approved by the Federal Government to pay the backlogs of salaries of workers and pensioners, the state government had remained adamant, as the people continue to cry daily. Comrade Gbassa told Golden Pen, that what triggered him to come out to speak was a misleading 'transparency briefing by the deputy governor'. Hear him:
" You see, a toad does not run for nothing in a broad day light." Serake Dickson in his administrative agenda is squeezing the people and strangulating them. Many are sick because of hunger, while hundreds and thousands of people have died because of non payment of salaries, pensioners, contractors, including non payment of students bursaries."
According to the Activist, who is also an anti-corruption campaigner said, the Bayelsa State government had been economical with the truth, I mean not sincere about how much the governor truly received from the federal Ministry of Finance of the Paris Club refunds, which the Federal government said was N24.89 billion, but the state government argued that it was just N14. 5 billion.
He berated the deputy governor of the State, Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John-Jonah (Rtd) and the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Jonathan Obuebite for not standing on the truth but mixing issues to the detriment of the people of the state.
"The state government had deliberately refused to give honest accounts to the people of the state and the world. If they do, why don't they give account of both the monthly federal allocations that had risen up to billions of naira at once and give the actual amount they received from the Paris Club refunds paid to the state to clear the accumulated arrears of civil servants and pensioners in the state.
"In that transparency briefing, the Deputy Governor of the State, retired Rear Admiral John-Jonah hinged his briefing on the Paris club refunds alone, and came out with different figures from that, published by the Federal Ministry of Finance, and defended by the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Obuebite is not transparent, because they were all economical with the truth, they were deceiving the people of the state" Comrade Gbassa observed.
The deputy governor, Gboribiogha John Jonah was quoted as saying that:
"When the first 25 per cent was paid, Bayelsa state could have received N21.168 bn, but when the money came, they only released N14.5 bn to us.
"But again the N14.5bn was not for the state government alone, because out of the amount N1.3bn was for the local government councils.
"So what really came to the state government was N13.2bn". Admiral Jonah clarified.
In his reaction the Bayelsa based Niger Delta Activist Comrade Gbassa had said the transparency briefing was controversial and not at all transparent, because what the public wants to hear from the Dickson administration is whether the Paris Club money had been used to clear the backlog of salaries as directed by the federal government or not. He also queried why the briefing centered only on the Paris club refunds to the state without a mention of the monthly allocations that accrued to the state in the past six months; neither was there any mention of the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the state etc. Gbassa said:
" If they want to give true accounts of their stewardship, why then did they not tell Bayelsans the billions of naira, the governor, Mr. Seriake Dickson had collected from the federation's accounts on monthly basis as allocations to the state, the Internally Generated Revenue of the state and other sources of income, and a breakdown of the expenditures...."
Comrade Gbassa said the governor and his deputy are mixing the issues, not telling the truth, while other states are paying salaries, they say, they have not received the money to pay or they have not received the total amount of N24. 89 billion to be able to pay. He described the claims by the deputy governor that the state received only N14. 5 billion out of the above stated amount, as most contrversial and unbelievable, while looking at the episode as a great political error that the deputy governor needed to have distannced himself from the ill fated transparency briefing.
"The Bayelsa State, deputy governor, Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John Jonah (Rtd) was a highly regarded Military Officer, I so highly respected, but today, he has come out to tell what is not true to mislead the suffering masses in the state and that is unacceptable.
He should be told the truth that his transparency briefing was not transparent, and he did not sound as someone caring about the well being of the suffering masses whose salaries Dickson and himself have denied to pay for months..."
Gbassa further stated that, he was so disappointed with the Deputy Governor, John Jonah and the Information Commissioner for shifting grounds to say that the government later received an additional amount of N6.61bn as part of it's share of the first tranche...", after they had denied it all, he said.
Gbassa contended that he does not see any reason for the State Government to play politics with the destinies of workers, the pensioners, the contractors, the students and the entire people of the state in the none payment of salaries, none payment of pensioners etc.
He further condemned the Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson for approving an obnoxious increase of school fees in the state own, Niger Delta University (NDU) from N35,000.00 to N150, 000.00 to also increase the burdens of the same parents suffering from unpaid salaries, and other self employed investors that are struggling to survive in the state to cough out such a jaw breaking amount of money at this trying moment in the history of Bayelsa, to parents whose sons and daughters are in that school.
He shouted to the government saying:
"Be sincere to the people pay the salaries of workers, and the pensioners, and the contractors, and the student bursaries and also pay overhead etc. you don't have any excuse." Comrade Gbassa concluded.