Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, on Monday, 2 March, 2020 swore in Rt. Hon. Friday Konbowei Benson as Secretary to the State Government (SSG), charging him to see his appointment as a call to higher service for the overall benefit of people of the state.
Dr. Benson was a three-term Speaker of the state House of Assembly.
At a brief ceremony inside the Exco Chambers of Government House, Yenagoa, the governor in a statement by his Acting Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Daniel Alabrah, said the SSG’s mandate is to liaise with the Head of Service and Permanent Secretaries towards ensuring effective implementation of government’s policies and programmes.
The governor, who expressed conviction that the new SSG would perform his duties creditably based on his pedigree, urged him to utilise the new opportunity to demonstrate his capacity and wherewithal in the performance of his functions.
His words: “From the curriculum vitae presented before all of us, clearly he is a square peg in a square hole. We believe that he will perform his duties creditably as SSG.
“He has the duty of liaising with the engine room of government, the Head of Service and the Permanent Secretaries.
“He has the duty of ensuring that the policies and programmes of this administration are implemented to the letter. That means he equally will be liaising with the Government House from where most of the policies and programmes will be coming.”
“So I charge you today to take your office not as a treasure but as a service to the people of Bayelsa and to mankind.”
Governor Diri later met with leaders of the organised labour in the state during which he expressed his commitment to better the welfare of civil servants, describing the workforce as critical to the success of his administration.
He said he was aware of some of the contentious labour-related issues having interacted with organised labour before the November 16, 2019 governorship election and thought it wise to once again meet with them after being sworn in.
“While we were campaigning, we had interactive sessions with labour leaders and most of the issues are on our finger tips. Now that we are in government, we thought it wise to invite you to look at areas that are grey, collectively reasoning with you and providing solutions on issues about arrears of wages that have not been paid and that had been raised informally before us.
“We believe that by collaborating with you, working with you hand-in-gloves, we are sure that the welfare of workers will be met. As a government, we are very interested in the welfare of workers.”
In a brief remark, the state Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Comrade John Ndiomu, congratulated Senator Diri on his swearing in as governor after his victory at the Supreme Court on February 13, 2020.
Comrade Ndiomu stated that organised labour would work with the governor in the area of implementing government’s policies and programmes to ensure the success of the administration.
Also briefing journalists after the meeting, the state Head of Service, Mrs. Biobelemoye Charles-Onyema, said the governor has set up a committee to look into all pending issues of salary arrears, promotion arrears, minimum wage among others.
According to Mrs. Charles-Onyema, the committee is expected to submit its report to the governor in two weeks, adding that teachers, especially those in the primary school system would henceforth be given greater attention.