Salary arrears have been significantly reduced from 70bn to less than 40bn-Ortom

Salary arrears have been significantly reduced from 70bn to less than 40bn-Ortom

 

“I inherited over 70 billion arrears of salaries, Pension and gratuity when i came into power in 2015 but we have been able to reduce it, today, we have less than 40 billion that is outstandiung to pay at the state level”

Advertisement

These were the submissions of the Executive Governor of Benue state Samuel Ortom on Sunday when he appeared as a guest on TVC’s current Affairs Programme Journalists’ Hangout.

Contrary to the belief of many that his administation has not been paying workers salaries, pension, gratuity, Governor ortom stated that this was a falacy from his opponents, adding that If salaries, pensions and others were not being paid, the reaction would have been seen from the workers.

Advertisement
Advertisement
ding GIF

Ortom explained that less than 25 billion is outstanding at the the local government which he accumulated over the years from previous government.

 

Advertisement

“In 2017, we owed workers at the state level for 5 months, workers at the local government for 10 months, and teachers for 9 months. I have been able to pay salaries on time since January 2018, until we started having some economic problems that everyone is aware of, which is peculiar not only to me but to nearly 30 states”.

The governor stated that one successful strategy he implemented was to include the civil service union on the allocation committee, so that what comes from the federal government, Internally Generated Revenue, local governments, the civil servants, and pensioners are aware of how much comes in and how it is allocated.

Advertisement

He added that this is why he has not had any major problems with the issue of a pension revolt against him. “We have problems in the economy today; the NNPC is no longer remitting funds to the federation account, which has been a huge challenge for all states. We will keep doing our best; we have nothing to hide” .

The Benue governor stated that there was a little improvement in the allocation for July but he has been able to pay workers salaries for April, May, June and was hoping to add July.

Advertisement

He noted that the eonomy of Benue state is driven by peasant farmers and actively contributed by civil servants hence salaries cannot be unpaid.

“We don’t have industries like other states, so we must employ civil servants because we want them to be engaged”.

Advertisement

Ortom also revealed that, aside from Lagos and Rivers states, Benue is the next highest paying state in the North, which many people are unaware of.

“After Lagos and River state, Benue state pays the highest salary.

Advertisement

“That is the reality because inflation and other factors must be taken into account. The cost of goods and services has risen.

“In my attempt to find a long-term solution to the issue of pension and gratuity, I domesticated the PenCom law; today, we have contributed over N5 billion naira to PenCom.

Advertisement

“Recently, PenCom issued a report in which Benue state was mentioned as being diligent and paying. When we reach a certain threshold, we will borrow money from there to pay off the existing arrears. This is the first time a Benue state government has made the decision”, he said.

On significantly improving Agriculture in the state, the governor stated that despite the challenges, he understood the importnace of putting in place basic structures which will help develop the people of Benue as well as attract foreign direct investment.

Advertisement

“Makurdi for instance has a new look, there are many new openings in terms of road infrastructure, Gboko and Katsina-ala have been impacted by the current government. We are also considering other infrastructure.

“In terms of health, we have been able to provide facilities that will benefit our people”.

Advertisement

Ortom said steps have also been taken to improve the fortunes of land administration in Benue state.”We have been able to provide facilities that will aid in agricultural development. We have been able to ensure that we add value to development despite our limited resources. The people appreciated everything the administration did for them, so they re-elected me”.

On tapping into opprtunities that are abound in Agriculture where revenue can be generated, the governor noted that one of the key objectives of his administration in 2015 was to ensure the promotion of agriculture because it is an area the state has a competitive advantage.

Advertisement

“More than 98 percent of our land is arable and we have two rivers, we can engage in year-round farming activities”

Ortom added that the state would have risen very high in terms of agricultural production in Nigeria but for the incessant attacks by Fulani herdmen attack in an effort to destroy the state and ensure that its people are displaced.

Advertisement

“This was what we intended to do and was already in progress.

“Second, one of the deliberate policies was to ensure that we do not just produce primary products but also go into processing because going into processing creates jobs, wealth, and opportunities for your people.

Advertisement

“We also provided an enabing environment; we renovated an industrial layout, provided electricity, reopened the roads, and were ready to accommodate investors. We traveled to China, America, Asia, and other parts of the world to ensure that industries can take advantage of the primary produce and raw materials available in Benue state.

“I inherited the herdsmen problem, which began and has continued, but we know and believe that the way forward is to industrialize and add value to primary agricultural products by using them as raw materials, thereby creating jobs, opportunities, and wealth”, he said.

Advertisement

Speaking on the issue of the crisis of confidence between the party’s standard presidential bearer Atiku Abubarkar and the governor of River state, Nyesom Wike, Ortom said “I’ve been at the center of it because Wike is a friend of mine, and my party is the PDP, which I still support.

“I have told my party’s leadership and management that they have failed, particularly with my friend Wike, who is a pillar of the PDP in Nigeria today.

Advertisement

“When things did not go well with the PDP in 2015, I joined the APC and won the election, but when I saw that the APC was not willing to abide by the code of conduct and the oath of office that they took, I left again, and Wike was the one who facilitated it.

“Atiku and the party’s leadership have agreed to intervene and reach out to Gov. Wike and the rest of the people who have been left out as a result of Wike’s absence. It is not too late. These issues can be resolved as a family. We are considering not only our own personal interests, but also the larger interests of our party and Nigerians who are distressed as a result of poor governance and current events in our country”.

Advertisement

The governor who lamented the incessant attacks on the people of Benue said so far the state has not received any assistance from the Federal Government to alleviate the plight of the IDPS. He said there are close to two million IDPs currently in Benue who are suffering.

“If not for the efforts of the state government, concerned citizens, faith-based organizations, and other humanitarians who have come to our aid. We’ve also been denied international assistance.

Advertisement

“The billion sent by USAID are being diverted to the north east.

“When the Vice President came to visit, we went to two of the camps and he promised that $10 billion would be made available. After about four years, nothing has come of that promise. The situation is dreadful.

Advertisement

“The IDPs do not live in traditional camps; instead, they attend primary schools. The children do not attend school. Because the government of Benue state cannot do it alone, we are appealing to good-hearted individuals and humanitarians.

The governor concluded by sayinmg that his trip to the UK and US was to tell the people that the narrative that was being sent to them about the crisis was a wrong one.

Advertisement

“The Fulanis have come here to take over Nigeria as their country. We have indegenious people among us, we have no problem with them, but these Fulanis that are attacking us are from Niger, Mali, Chad, Cameroun, Mouritania, Libya and other parts of the world, and they decided that they will take over Nigeria and become a Fulani nation. Whether, you like it or not, it is a fact, this is what these people are doing”..

Advertisement

leave a reply