The decision of the Bayelsa State government to effect the redeployment of some 4,075 staff in its employ has continued to cause ripples in the state. But the government says there is no cause for alarm.
Workers in both the state's civil service and the local government areas of the state are now jittery and have started strategizing on how to resist the attempt by the state government to redeploy and sack them..
One of the affected civil servants who preferred anonymity told TNN that the committee set up and headed by the deputy governor, Gboribiogha John Jonah to look into the issue was bias, stressing that members of the committee were overlooking the financial crimes being perpetrated by top civil servants and were innocent civil servants.
He also raised eyebrows concerning the redeployment, saying that it could invariably end up in outright sack of the affected workers.
He further accused the state government of neglecting the statutory obligation of paying pensions and gratuity of retired civil servants, adding that this has led to untold hardship and death of these retirees.
In the same vein, another civil servant, Nathaniel Gomorai also expressed displeasure over the redeployment and sack, alleging that the "clean up exercise" embarked upon in the civil service by the state government started right from the inception of the present administration, and that the exercise ought to have ended as it was now seen as a calculated attempt to inflict pains on the affected workers.
Gomorai also said that the state was a purely civil service state and any public service reform that would negatively affect the salaries and allowances of these workers would in turn have a negative multiplier effect on the general economy of the state
He cited the case of a retired civil servant, Thompson Oyatu, a former editor with the state Newspaper Corporation who is critically ill and lying helplessly in the state's specialist hospital, alleging that the condition of the retiree was further compounded by the blunt refusal of the state government to pay his pension and gratuity.
Addressing labour unions under the auspices of the Nigerian Labour Congress, the governor, Seriake Dickson said that no amount of propaganda could stop the state government from continuing with the reforms, emphasizing that the days when civil servants receive salaries without corresponding productivity are over.
Dickson also said that the reforms had already started yielding positive results as the wage bill which was N6b when his administration came on board, had been drastically reduced to N4b, stressing that the difference would be used for the socio-economic and infrastructural development of the state.
Speaking in the same vein, state chairman of the Nigerian Labour Congress, Comrade John Ndiomu stated that the reforms were in the interest of the entire state, promising that any civil servant that has no skeleton in his cup board should not exercise fear, noting that the reform is only targeted at arresting the ugly trend associated with payroll fraud among civil servants in the state.
He debunked the rumours making the round that labour leaders were insensitive to workers plight in the state, adding that Bayelsans should take their destiny in their hands by being supportive of the on-going reforms.
Meanwhile, the governing council of the Niger Delta University (NDU) has thrown its weight behind the Bayelsa State government's on-going public service reforms, describing the move as well intentioned and good for the state.
Chairman of the council, Prof. Steve Azaiki made the declaration while speaking with newsmen shortly after a meeting between Dickson and the governing boards of state-owned tertiary institutions in Yenagoa.
Azaiki who expressed the governing council's readiness to implement the government's policy of sanitizing the public service, noted that the practice where the university solely depended on the state government to fund its over bloated workforce was unsustainable.
His words: "The amount of money that government has been giving to NDU is not sustainable. Suppose oil price falls or there are issues of governance or politics. Anything can happen and then the University will collapse. So, we need to look inwards and see how we can come up with a sustainable figure.
"We are going to look at the list again especially in the case of NDU. We provided to the government, 1700 non-academic staff that we think should be redeployed or should be disengaged by the institution to make sure that the policy of government is effective.
"However, one of the key things the governor said in the meeting, is that there could be need for us to reabsorb most of these people. So, council will meet and review the list, and we will come up with a solution on how best we can help our own people.
“After all, some of them are due for retirement, some are incompetent while others are facing disciplinary actions. So, we will make separate recommendations for all the cases because I believe that the Governor is ready to accommodate Bayelsans in our system. So there is no need for people to take laws into their hands."