MAKURDI â€” THE Benue State government has disclosed that it expends over N900 million monthly on the payment of Primary and Universal Basic Education, UBE, Junior Secondary School teachersâ€™ salaries and allowances.
Special Adviser to the State Governor on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Mr. Solomon Wombo, disclosed this in Makurdi while fielding questions from newsmen in his office.
He said the huge sum had not discouraged the state government from implementing the 27.5 per cent salary increment for teachers which, he noted, was a commitment to the well-being of teachers in the state.
The Special Adviser explained that the sum which is statutorily deducted from local government funds and handed over to the State Universal Basic Education Board was not done illegally, adding that the state government has remained transparent in the handling of such statutory deductions.
He informed that as a responsible government, the present administration in the state would have no reason to embark on illegal deductions from local government council funds as doing so would greatly hamper the smooth running of the third tier of government in the state.
According to him, â€œnobody touches council funds except for statutory deductions and anything outside that is out of it and unattainable in Benue State.
â€œIt may also interest you to know that in some instances whenever there are shortfalls in council funds from the Federation Account, the state government goes as far as supplementing whatever was due to the local government councils in order to enable them meet their financial obligations.
â€œIn that light, it makes it even impossible for anyone to deduct from their funds because doing so will handicap their financial capabilities.â€
He further informed that his office had strengthened its monitoring unit with the aim of supervising activities in the councils and by so doing also ensure that funds accruable to the councils were strictly applied to development projects.
Regretting the backlog of wages and allowances being owed council staff by some local government council chairmen, Wombo said the state government was addressing the issue with all seriousness.
He said government had set in motion a process to ensure that every worker in the 23 local government areas of the state was paid any outstanding salary or allowance, adding: â€œThat is the only way you can elicit efficiency and greater commitment to services from all workers at that level of government.â€