A bill to cut the salaries and gratuities of local government Councillors in Delta State is on the offing.
Already, the bill christened, “Delta State remunerations, salaries, allowances, gratuities and pensions of certain public office holders and bodies amendment bill” has passed second reading at the State House of Assembly.
The second reading of the bill at Tuesday’s plenary presided over by the Speaker, Rt Hon Sheriff Oborevwori, was sequel to a motion moved by the member representing Ndokwa West constituency, Hon Azuka Azaka, seconded by the Majority Leader, Hon Tim Owhefere.
Hon Azaka who sponsored the said bill, explained that the bill was important to protect and stabilize local government councils from financial collapse.
According to him, presently, Councils were finding it difficult to pay salaries and allowances of political office holders owing to huge wage bill.
The lawmaker faulted the past state legislature who erroneously increased the salaries of public office holders in the Councils as against the initial amount pegged by the Fiscal mobilization commission, which he noted, has created financial burden to local government councils.
He bemoaned the situation where Councillors years after leaving office would still be agitating for their unpaid allowances even though it was readily available, thereby mounting debts for the local government councils.
Other members who supported the bill including the Deputy Majority Leader, Hon Oboro Preyor, Chief Whip, Pat Ajudua, Emeka Elekeokwuri Dennis Omovie, Emeka Nwaobi and Daniel Mayuku said the bill was apt, especially as the local government election in Delta State was around the corner.
They maintained that the bill was not designed to hunt any individual or political party as no individual political party has been elected to run the council.
According to the lawmakers, the bill which was aimed at correcting the mistake done on the initial bill by the past state legislators, was in line with the provision of the fiscal mobilization commission.
But Hon Efe Ofobruku representing Uvwie constituency opposed the bill noting that the bill will reduce the salaries of incoming local government Councillors.
According to him, the situation was against the “prosperity agenda” of the Okowa administration, adding that the Councillors will be left with little or no fund to cater for their various wards.
Following the discordant voices against the bill, the Speaker, Rt Hon Oborevwori put the question to a voice vote and those who say yes to the bill outweigh the others, Press Secretary to the Speaker, Mr Dennis Otu said in a statement obtained by BigPen Online.
The Speaker further committed the bill to the House committee on Finance/Appropriation, Establishment, Ethics and Privileges to report back to the House on Tuesday next week.
The House adjourned sitting to Tuesday next week after the motion to that effect was moved by the Majority Leader, Hon Owhefere and seconded by Hon Evance Ivwurie representing Ethiope East constituency.