Benue Needs N40bn To Clear Salary Arrears
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue is aware that a corpse cannot hide from its undertaker.
Opening up to the public on what he owes workers in his state now appears to be the best way to avoid being wrongly accused.
He released a statement on Sunday in Makurdi and the highlight of it is that his administration needs N40 billion to clear the backlog of salary arrears owed workers of the state.
He denied owing workers up to 10 months at a stretch, explaining that he had not breached his agreement with labour leaders in the state concerning the mode of salary payment.
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“I have kept my agreement with labour leaders that as a result of insufficient funds, the federal allocation of two months would be combined to pay one month’s complete salary for workers.”
According to him, it is the accumulation of the unpaid months that gave the wrong impression of 10 months at a stretch.
Ortom also expressed regret that the N8.2 billion inherited wage bill had compounded the financial situation of the state.
He said his administration had, however, reduced the wage bill to N7.8 billion, adding that the recovery of looted funds would help address the challenge of unpaid salaries.
He alleged that N107 billion had been looted from the coffers of the state government and that one of the persons indicted by an investigative panel has refunded N370 million.
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He further said that N4.5 billion bond proceeds that had been diverted, had also been recovered.
The governor said the state of emergency declared on the payment of salaries would focus on reducing the wage bill and clearing the backlog of arrears owed workers.
The state government recently received N6.4 billion from the Federal Government as its share of Paris Club refunds for the payment of salaries among other interventions.