Governor Samuel Ortom has made it clear that his government would not be able to continue with N7.8 Billion monthly wage bill that had rendered the state weak in terms of financial obligations.
The governor, who spoke to news men at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, today, Tuesday, said: “honestly, N7.8 billion wage bill for Benue State is out of place and there is no way we will continue in this manner. I and my council have looked at the wage bill and compare with what people are collecting elsewhere in the country and we have come to an average of N4.5 billion that we just have to review it to that.”
Governor Ortom said that the state wage bill is one of the highest in Nigeria, adding that even his predecessor admitted that there was mistake in negotiating with the workers.
He said that the workers had continued to resist attempts to bring wage down.
“Now we have no choice. We have said it, especially when the leadership of the labour congress came and we Dialogue and we have set up technical committees comprising technical team from labour congress and technical team from my government; they will look at it and review wage bill and ensure that leakages are eliminated, salary padding and ghost workers and all that.
The governor said that an average income for the State, both from federation account and Internally Generated Revenue are slightly above N6 billion, adding: “so, if you are paying salaries alone, you are having a deficit of N1.8 billion a month. It is impossible and we have security issues to tackle and several other things that government must run and so it becomes a big problem.”
The governor acknowledged that he had no problem with his workers because they understood the situation even as he said that his government is transparent.
“I can assure you that in the next few weeks, that is what we are working on and by the grace of God, we will come to a reasonable figure that we will be able to pay salaries as at when due.”
He said that his government inherited N69 billion arrears on pensions, gratuities and salaries.
“Then over N70 billion contractual obligations and so it has been a huge burden on our finances and so Mr. President too has promised to find ways that the state can also get support.” [myad]