By Abraham Uwuasom
Owing to the ongoing industrial action in Benue State, Governor of the State, Dr. Samuel Ortom has told Benue State’s workers that he was determined to cut down the state’s monthly wage bill from the current N7.8 billion to about N4.5 billion by removing ghost workers and redundant staffs in the state, adding that by so doing it will make the issue of prompt payment of workers’ salary realistic and sustainable.
He stated this while speaking on a special edition of the Radio Benue Current Affairs phone-in interactive programme “Issues of the Moment” today.
Governor Ortom said his administration would remove ghost workers and redundant staff from the pay roll in addition to deploying a fraud detecting salary payment platform at the end of the on-going staff verification exercise among other measures.
He pointed out that his administration was holding discussions with financial institutions on ways to clear arrears of salaries, pensions and described as unacceptable and unsustainable, the current monthly wage bill of the State.
The Governor maintained that his administration had stopped work on projects it embarked upon as a result of the declaration of a state of emergency as a demonstration that it was committed to making the welfare of Benue workers a top priority.
He said as a result of paucity of funds government and labour reached an agreement to combine two month’s allocations to pay full salary of one month and has not reneged on it.
The Governor stressed the need for workers to continue to show understanding with government and call-off the industrial action, while expressing his willingness to continue negotiations with them and readiness to pay one month’s full salary across the board from the combined August and September 2017 allocations already secured.
He explained that while he appreciated the federal government for financial assistance given to the state the interventions have not been enough to clear salary, pension and gratuity arrears of N69 billion which he inherited from the previous administration.
Governor Ortom stated that he had neither diverted nor hidden any funds anywhere from which he could clear salary arrears as demanded by the striking workers.