Bayelsans who have attained the age of 75 years and above are to enjoy some level of comfort under the new Bayelsa Welfare and Social Security Scheme in line with the restoration agenda of the present administration of Governor Seriake Dickson.
Categories of Bayelsans to be supported with a monthly stipends of N5000 (five thousand naira) under the scheme are those who are indigenes of the state and not pensioners in both the public and private sector.
Addressing a number of the elderly persons in Government House, during a symbolic presentation of the stipends for the months of May and June, 2013, Governor Seriake Dickson stressed that it was the responsibility of government to cater for the welfare and wellbeing of elderly people in society.
Expressing government’s resolve to serve the people of the state, he vowed not to spare any effort at improving the standard of living of the people.
“For us in government, we are here to serve the people. Government belongs to the people and not the other way round. It is your government and we will not stop at anything; under my charge, government of this great state will strive hard to meet your needs in all spheres of life.
“We have shown that some of these things are possible. And we have good elders of this state, all of us here parents, uncles, aunts and mothers very often because of the challenges of present day living, most of the children that our old people have are not readily available when needed. And we know that our old people, due to no fault of theirs, are sometimes left without the care and support that they rightly deserve”
Making clarification on the modalities for payment of the stipends, across the state, Governor Dickson said chairmen of the Rural Development Authorities would be saddled with the responsibility of the payment of the stipend for those who have been registered.
According to the Governor, the State House of Assembly is also expected to perform its oversight functions on the mechanisms adopted for the disbursement of the funds as well as give quarterly reports of the implementation of the welfare scheme.
Governor Dickson however warned operators of the scheme not to see it as an opportunity to perpetrate fraud, especially the Community Development Committee Chairmen and traditional rulers and the Rural Development officials stressing that exploiters of the welfare would be penalized.
“We are not my dear people creating an avenue for fraud with this policy; we are not creating an opportunity for people to impersonate old; we are not creating an opportunity for people who are not from Bayelsa State to come and claim that they are from Bayelsa State because there is penalty for all of that. And so let me at this point, draw the attention of those who have a duty to perform under the scheme particularly the CDC chairmen, traditional rulers of the various communities and the G32 workers that once we notice any fraud, we will deal with it purely as a crime.”
In her remarks, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on the Elderly, Mrs Keseme Wilson explained that, next week her team would strive to make payments to the elderly across the state and commended the state government for keeping faith with the policy.
Responding, one of the beneficiaries, Mr. Emmanuel Imomoleigha who spoke in Izon was full of praises for Governor Dickson for the gesture.
The 91 year-old man from Sampou Community in Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area of the State, prayed God to bless Governor Dickson and his administration as well as grant him the strength and good health to carry on his good works.