There were anxieties among civil servants in Bayelsa State on Sunday following the insistence of the Governor of the state, Mr. Seriake Dickson, to criminalise sharp practices in the civil service and send those found guilty to 10 years in prison without an option of fine.
The governor who had been waging war against corrupt civil servants, including persons undergoing trial for N6bn wage bill scam, was said to have sent a bill aimed at cleaning the rot in the civil service to the state House of Assembly.
Dickson confirmed the development in Yenagoa during his monthly media chat. He said the bill was initiated by his administration to check fraud, which, he said, had hindered the development of the state.
According to him, the bill will strengthen the provisions of the Criminal Code and lead to quick dispensation of cases relating to fraud when it becomes law.
He said, “The bill to the House of Assembly is to criminalised sharp practices. While we are doing well to stabilise the state, we believe the state should be regularised by law. If the bill against wage fraud is passed, those indicted will serve 10 years imprisonment. “
He called on workers involved in sharp practices, especially the inflation of salaries and emoluments of civil servants, to desist from the act. He warned that there would be no sacred cows.
Also speaking at a reception organised by the state chapter of the Association of Nigerian Authors to mark Gabriel Okara’s 91st birthday, Dickson announced the endowment of a Professorial Chair at the Faculty of the Arts, Niger Delta University, in honour of the renowned poet and novelist.
He described Okara as “an icon, a sage and a quintessential Ijaw man who conquered his environment and signposted his identity on the world map of literature.”
He noted that although infrastructure was important to the people, “building and investing in the human mind is more fundamental”.
He said celebrating Okara and his works was a delightful engagement, explaining that his administration’s decision to create a Ministry of Ijaw National Affairs and Culture was aimed at promoting the Ijaw culture, language and arts.