Sylva Implicates Jonathan On Pension Scandal
Sylva Implicates Jonathan On Pension Scandal, Asks Dickson to Quit
TROUBLE is currently brewing in Bayelsa State, President Goodluck Jonathan home state in Southern Nigeria. Former Governor Timipre Sylva, wants his successor, Seriake Dickson, to throw in the towel, and quit his office.
At the heart of the current trouble is Dickson's Transparency Briefing at the weekend. At the event, Dickson claimed that the Bayelsa State Government under Sylva never paid pensions to retirees for five years. He further claimed that his administration inherited unpaid pension arrears of over N4.00 billion. Consequently, the governor said he will like to establish a Judicial Commission of Inquiry to probe Sylva.
If this potentially dangerous pension crisis is not immediately contained by the authorities, President Jonathan will be fighting for re-election with a badly divided home base. The crisis in Rivers State, a state with over two million voters, is yet to settle.
Already, it is being speculated that with the way Governor Chibuike Amaechi of Rivers is going in his confrontation with Jonathan, and wife, Patience, the embattled governor is spoiling to split the state votes. PDP has been enjoying not less than two million votes from Rivers.
The voting strength of Bayelsa is less than 900,000, and if Sylva is allowed to act as a bull in a China's shop, it could be not too good for the president. Watchers of Bayelsa politics say if Sylva is unnecessarily stressed, he could anchor with Amaechi as vital links for the opposition in the volatile oil and gas region.
However, Media Adviser to Sylva, Doifie Buokoribo, in an online statement to AkanimoReports on Monday evening said, ''we are sick and tired of Dickson’s governance style of always blaming Timipre Sylva for his incompetence and failure. We call upon Dickson to resign now since he has shown that the job for which he was imposed on the people of Bayelsa State is bigger than him. Failing which the people of Bayelsa State should exercise their civic duty to remove him from office using all available constitutional options''.
According to the obviously angry ex-governor, ''Dickson’s claim about non-payment of pensioners from May 2007- January 2012 is scandalous, petty and irresponsible. This is clear for the following reasons:
''When i took over as governor of Bayelsa State from Dr Goodluck Jonathan, there were outstanding pension and gratuity arrears, and no noise was made about it. As a leader, i took responsibility on the conviction that government is a continuum. Pensioners were paid along with people still in service, promptly and monthly. Those who retired from service at the time also received their gratuity once the appropriate documentations were done. Not even Sylva’s opponents could accuse him of non-payment of salaries and pensions. By our records, the state government paid an average of N216 million monthly and about N2.6 billion per annum on pensions.
'' If nobody protested over non-payment of pension for five years, it means pensioners as well as labour in Bayelsa were satisfied with the Sylva administration.
''Why is Dickson restricting his pension probe to the period from 2007- 2012? Why not commence from the beginning of civilian rule in the state in 1999? Why the obsession with Sylva?
''Dickson has been in office since February 2012. In April 2012, he set up a kangaroo 11-person Financial Management Review Committee headed by Mr Ndutimi Alaibe to probe Sylva. Yet, Dickson is only just realising - in July 2013 – that pension funds were mismanaged from 2007-2012.
''Dickson says it has come to his knowledge that the pension thieves in Bayelsa State used the stolen funds to build hotels and buy exotic cars. Meaning that he already knows who these criminals are. So, why set up a Judicial Commission of Inquiry?
''Dickson and his master at the top have run out of options in the schizoid attempt to ruin the political career of Sylva hence the decision to set up this Judicial Commission of Inquiry. By working to the answer, they would like the Commission to indict Sylva having failed in their previous attempts with the Alaibe Committee, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)''.
Continuing, he said under Dickson, Bayelsa has ''suffered a severe governance deficit. By all indications, Dickson is interested only in power and not the responsibility that goes with the high office he was brought to occupy. Having struggled to hide his lack of capacity under the name of Sylva and seen clearly that this strategy is no longer workable, the only option left for Dickson is to resign now''. ENDS