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ZAMFARA BEGINS JOURNEY TOWARD DECENTRALIZATION OF SALARIES AMIDST GRIEF AND FEAR

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Zamfara State government has finally taken the bold step of decentralizing the payment of salaries as against the old tradition where the state Ministry of Finance was in sole control of payment of salaries and other emoluments to the rest of ministries, agencies and parastatals of the government.

To many, the decision is apt considering the continued agitation by stakeholders for reason of enhancing efficiency and ensuring prudency in the management of the state finances.

I could remember during my interview with Zamfara former Finance Commissioner, Alh Isiyaka Muhammad Zurmi, he said “if the Zamfara State government wants to block leakages from the payment of salary, it should decentralize the salary system.

“Every Permanent Secretary knows his staff and those that come to work and for the purpose of fairness and efficiency in the system ministries, agencies and paradtatals of the state government should be allowed to decide who is to be paid and when”.

Zurmi added that “the existing centralized system operated by Zamfara State government has limited the power of the ministries, permanent Secretaries in particular to enforce discipline and regulate ethical misconduct by staff, since he does not have control over their salary.

Now the council has resolved that payment of salary be transmitted back to MDAs but the question is when and how is this going to be done?

THE MAJOR FEAR OF THE PEOPLE

Many stakeholders said, policy shift like this need adequate preparation and engagement of active stakeholders since the overall objective is to sanitize the system and make it more effective and viable.

The fear number one, is the strength of the coordination hence there are likely going to be too many centers, precisely over 200 feeding centers who are to be preparing and paying salaries directly to the state civil servants, there may be crises of synergy between office of the Head of Service and Ministry of Finance.

The second fear is, availability and efficiency of the human resources who are to take charge of the new task. I mean Directors of Finance and Accountants who understand the basic instruments of the modern accounting system?

The third fear is lack of facilities to support the people in doing the job. Laptop or desktop computers, internet services, availability of power supply as well as other electronic gadgets required for the job to be done.

Another fear is lack of sufficient finance staff to be deployed to agencies of the government eg. Teachers Service Board, Female Education Board, Hospital Management Service Board who have staff across all 144 wards and need to be accommodated with all sense of fairness.

There is also another fear that some staff of the state Ministry of Finance who are to handle the issue of salary at the respective MDAs may likely take advantage of their supremacy in sabotaging the system by removing or adding names in to the payroll and eventually creating confusion in the system.

There is also the fear that the banks may likely not be well ready for the new trend since before now, in the old system which is to be substituted, it’s one bank handling salary matters now all banks would be involved directly, this time around.

Again if the banks are consulted, there may be better way they can suggest the new initiative should have been carried out in strong collaboration with the finance staff involved in the issue.

There is also the fear that the government did not provide enough mechanisms to manage complaints that would arise from the new system as that would help minimize the frustration in people.

WHAT ARE THE MAJOR EXPACTATIONS??

So many things of course , but most important of all the steps the government should take is to try as much as possible to implement this policy shift in phases and try to set a time frame which would guide the final exit.

Zamfara State government should also try to train its finance and account officers on the current system and educate them on what is expected of them so that within the exit period set aside by the government, they should master the art of managing the crises associated with the new decentralized payment system.

Banks should be contacted and a common platform should be agreed through which all matters related to payment of salaries by these over 200 MDAs should be channelled to and mechanism for solving many arising problems related to payment of salaries should be agreed.

Office of the Head of Civil Service should be enhanced to effect discipline on erring finance officers who take advantage of their positions to withhold salaries of other people unnecessarily.

Provision for enhancing the use of internet facilities should be encouraged so that things can be done in time and salaries can be paid in a harmonized manner that no one is cheated or delayed.

Government, through the Ministry of Finance, should agree on a fixed date for the release of salary print out and the final date for the harmonization of monthly valid payroll so that all crises related to payment of salary can be managed efficiently also within the time frame.

There should be mechanism of receiving complaints and also avenue for redress so that sabatours can be detected and dealt with appropriately.

Head of Service should be responsible for the release of final payroll to the Accountant General of the state and copy the Governor on the final agreed figure based on the sub-payrolls he receives from respective permanent secretaries and heads of government agencies.

Office of the Accountant General should be the one to coordinate the payment of salaries with the Department of Salary in the Ministry of Finance and there should be restrictions of interference from any third party, including the Governor and Commissioner of Finance or any other influential person.

Though some stakeholders are of the view that the Governor may think of deploying a whole Permanent Secretary in charge of salary, if that is the option, there is nothing wrong in it but the most important thing is to get the reform right and avoid situations that would make the story worse than it was.

Zamfara actually needs to move ahead and develop a system where nominal roll is greater than the payroll not the other way round.

This is one of the many reasons why office of the Head of Civil Service of Zamfara should take the issue of training and retraining of civil servants very seriously because of these types of dry days

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ZAMFARA NUJ ELECT MAI ZARE, M.B UMAR AS NEW CHAIR & DEPUTY

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Members of Zamfara State Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) have elected their new Chairman, who is to steer the activities of the union.

Ibrahim Musa Maizare who was the former Chairman of the Zamfara State based newspaper chapel “The Legacy” was elected alongside Haliru Muhammad Umar from the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) chapel as his Deputy.

The remaining seats of the state officers of the union were returned unopposed, except the office of the Treasurer.

The election of the new executives followed the expiration of the tenure of the current executives, led by the Publisher of the Analyzer Newspaper Mai Haraji Altine Salah.

Mai Zare who was immediately sworn into the office alongside other executives, thanked the members of the state council for having confidence in his leadership and assured that he is going to reposition things in the union for a sustainable change.

He promised to come up with innovation that will transform the union and reposition it to be more sound like before and called for continued cooperation from all the members of the union.

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I NEVER ASK GOV. BELLO MATAWALLE TO DASH ME A CAR.

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The Secretary of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Zamfara state Faruk Ahmad Shatiman Rijiya has challenged those in the APC to prove whether the embattled eighteen seater bus they were making noise over was personally donated to him by Governor Matawalle or for the office of the PDP Publicity of Secretary.

Shatima who declared this during a Press Conference in Gusau on Friday said, contrary to the noise making round the public, he has never, for once, begged Governor Matawalle to dash him a car instead, the Governor personally feels he wanted to donate the car to him because of the role he played during his electioneering campaigns in 2019.

“If they wanted the car to be returned as claimed, let them tell the world how the Governor donated out the car to me through late Ibrahim Mallaha of blessed memory. The Governor gave the car to late Mallaha for onward handing over to me as personal donation, and I am certain if they met the him, he will confirm this to them.

“I am not in politics for vehicle, asked those who were with us in 2019. I used my personal Peugeot (406) to move with the Governor throughout the campaign period. I was not paid even money for fuel and the Governor knew that, and may be in his wisdom that was why he decided to dash me a vehicle I did not beg for”.

On the new security measures taken by the Governor, Shatiman Rijiya said he is sure the measures are targeted at the supporters of the PDP and because election is approaching, noting that they have every reason to entertain fear.

If the measures are initiated to get the lives of the typical Zamfara citizen better and secured, PDP will welcome the idea but noted that, under the current situation, the party and its members are not confident enough with the Governor’s pronouncement.

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SHATIMAN RIJIYA TO GOV. BELLO MATAWALLE: STOP INSULTING PDP

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The Zamfara State Secretary of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Faruk Ahmad Shatiman Rijiya has called on Governor Bello Matawalle to desist from insulting PDP because it was the platform he used to become the Governor of Zamfara state in 2019.

Shatiman Rijiya who stated this during a Press Conference on Friday reminded Governor Bello Matawalle that, the certificate of return issued to him by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was bearing the name of the PDP not APC the political party he defected to.

He described as morally wrong for the Governor to be rendering insult on the party that produces him as a substantive Governor, noting that even the people who are very familiar with his political antecedent and how he emerged as the Governor of Zamfara would not be happy with him abusing his original political platform.

He added that, PDP will continue to watch things as they unfold in Zamfara and continue to raise alarm where right decisions are not taken in the overall interest of the people of the state

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