The table payment option adopted in the payment of salaries to workers in Yagba West Local Government of Kogi State by the newly sworn-in Chairman of the council, Engr Ayorinde Makanjuola, is yielding fruits.
The option, one of the strategies explored by Makanjuola to get to the root of backlog of salary arrears owed council workers and the rot in governance inherited by his administration, according to the Vice-Chairman, Hon Omoniyi Adeyemi has helped not only in determining the actual wage bill of the council but also fishing out ghost workers, among other dividends.
Hon Adeyemi who spoke to journalists at the Yagba West Council secretariat, Odo Ere shortly after the exercise ended under his supervision, admitted that although the exercise was not without its constraints, including difficulties in securing cash from the banks and as a result, the exercise billed to hold for two days lasted seven days.
However, he said already millions of Naira has been saved through the detection of various sizes of ghost workers, arising from absenteeism, double appointments, proxies, people who are long due for retirement and impersonation. He enthused that more funds will be saved as the exercise continues and more strategies explored.
“The exercise helped us to identify those who are holding multiple government employments. We were able to identify those who were due for retirement but who were still on the local government pay-roll; some of them brought on wheel chairs, which would not have been achievable had their salaries been dropped in their bank accounts. There are about 120 workers who fall in this category. We advised them to write their retirement letters; they will get their salaries for the next three months while we process their retirement for them, so as to fast track their pensions,” he said, adding “We were able to detect some people who are based in far away America but who are on the LG pay-roll; those who have left the local government job to take state or federal government jobs and drawing salaries from two places. Some of these ghost workers were detected with the help local government workers, because we made them to realize the efforts are in their own interest. For those who have been identified as ghost workers, their names will no longer appear in the payment voucher as from next month. I cannot give you an accurate figure of what has been saved now because the exercise is gradual. We will not relent until we get to the roots of the problems of finances confronting the council.”
Meanwhile there has been outpouring of goodwill for the new council helmsmen in Yagba West over what the workers termed “a new lease of life” for them under Makanjuola’s leadership. Even if thy agreed it is their entitlement, the workers nevertheless expressed joy that their May salary was the first time a full salary was being paid them since over a year ago.
One of the workers, Akinlolu Ogunjobi said: “This chairman is God sent. Together with his vice, the new leadership has demonstrated competence, humility and simplicity in their approach to governance, especially in handling matters affecting workers’ welfare. We have thought that payment of full salary had become impossible in Yagba West after we got used to 30 per cent and 50 per cent for more than a year ago. But Engr Makanjuola has not only paid us a full salary for his first month in the saddle, on assumption of office, he ordered the payment of our leave bonuses for upward one year. He has started well, our prayer is for him to continue the good work and not to be distracted by the politicians or derail from the good work he is doing”.
It will be recalled that Engr Makanjuola, on assumption of office in May, in fulfillment of his campaign promise, inaugurated a seven-man Transition Advisory Committee, comprising eminent personalities of Yagba West origin to develop a blueprint to guide the operation and functions of his government in the next three years.
Chaired by Chief JA Owojaiye, retired Permanent Member, Kwara State School’s Board and member, Yagba West Caretaker Committee in 2007, the committee had on its membership, Dr Banji Yeye Agba, who was the pioneer Administrator of Yagba West Council upon creation of the council in 1991, Elder Philip Ekundayo Agbonwo, Mr Ayo Kowontan, Mrs Omolara Adekunle, Chief SS Sinkaiye and Chief Sunday Solomon Adeyemi. The TAC is also to study the handling over notes tendered by Makanjuola’s predecessor and the council bureaucracy and advise him appropriately.
Makanjuola disclosed during the inauguration ceremony that the panel was necessitated by the need to commence work in earnest for the transformation of the council and also to study the handling over notes he received on assumption of office, the content of which he described as “doubtful”.
“On assumption of office, I requested for a comprehensive handover notes with a view to commencing work in earnest for the transformation of our council. The handover notes that i got up to date were not quite comprehensive enough for us to make much progress. In some cases, the notes were of doubtful information. Even where they were adequate, indications are that they require forensic auditing and analysis for a meaningful understanding.”
According to him, the committee should, as part of its terms of reference, understudy the council administration between January 2012 and April 2013 and recommend on the way forward. It will also consider any other matters of societal relevance to assist in the delivery of democratic dividends to the citizens. The council boss dispelled speculations that he was embarking on a probe of the past administration.
Panel chairman, Owojaiye assured that the assignment will be done expeditiously and effectively. He described the move as first of its kind in the history of the council and enthused that it will serve as the beginning ofa revolution in the art of governance in the area.
“What we had in the past was that of incoming chairmen of the council setting up committees to study handling over notes, but this time, it goes beyond studying handling over notes to developing a blueprint. It is the first of its kind and we hope the exercise when completed and the reports when submitted and implemented will take our dear local government from the level of mediocrity that Engr Makanjola met things to greater heights,” he said.