Gov. Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa has decried the sharp drop in revenue generation from N18 billion in 2012 to N6 billion in 2015 and its adverse effect on government finances.
Dickson made the observation at the swearing in ceremony of Mrs. Atonye Pekene as Permanent Secretary in the state civil service in Yenagoa on Wednesday.
He said the administration was grappling with serious economic challenges in 2015 and called on the people to exercise some patience, as the state had no alternative source of revenue than the Federation Account.
“We live in times when states find it difficult to meet their basic obligations of paying monthly salaries and obligations to civil servants; it is not deliberate.
“From the revenue base that I inherited in 2012 which stood at about N18 billion and now my last receipt for last month stood at about N6.2 billion. So, that will tell you the enormity of the challenge we are facing.
“But because of the values and systems we have put in place, our state does not owe salaries of civil servants.
“Everything we get, we plough it back to meeting our obligations to civil servants and yet we pay NECO, WAEC and JAMB for all their children; we still find time to meet other obligations,” Dickson said.
He expressed regret that in spite of the efforts of the administration, the organised labour was not appreciative of the government’s efforts at meeting its salary obligations to them.
He said civil servants and their leadership were making unguarded and uninformed comments over minor delays in salary payment rather than showing gratitude to the government for contending with the lean financial times.
“The SSG should get in touch with the Vice Chancellor and the Governing Council of the Niger Delta University (NDU), Amassoma, on the challenges being faced by the government.
“Every month, we spend N500 million for staff salary of the NDU alone and yet if there is a delay of 3 days or one week, people threaten strike action and say all kinds of things.
“They turn the NDU from a citadel of learning that it is expected to be to a vortex of opposition,” Dickson said.
He called for greater understanding and support from the people, especially the leadership of the civil service for the economic challenges.
He further expressed the hope that the economic situation would not degenerate to the level whereby the forecast of the international price regime of crude oil may decline to as low as 20 dollars per barrel.
“From the forecast of the international price regime of crude oil, it may get to as low as 20 dollars, which will spell disaster not just for our state but for the whole country.
“We are actually managing a recession. So, Head of Service, I count on you to work with the leadership of the civil service and sensitise to the very dire situation we are facing,” Dickson said.