By Peter Duru
MAKURDI—Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has disclosed that the financial intervention of the federal government was not enough to help the his administration clear the over N69 billion backlog of salaries, pensions and gratuity inherited from the last administration.
Ortom, who spoke at the inauguration of Provinces four and three of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, in the state, held separately in Gboko and Makurdi, explained that his administration had been able to clear a substantial part of the wage, despite the challenge.
He said: “The interventions included the bailout and Paris Club refunds however the huge shortfalls from the monthly allocations have made it impossible to clear the arrears.
“At the time we took over, the monthly wage bill of the state, including pensions, overheads and gratuity, was N8.2 billion and with the implementation of minimum wage for teachers by our administration, the bill increased to about N8.5 billion.
“But after a series of screening exercises, the bill has been reduced to about N7.8 billion, which still remains one of the highest alongside industrialized states like Kano, Kaduna, and Ogun while the total monthly allocation to the state stands at an average of N6 billion.”
He said following the development, the state government reached an understanding with the state workers whose leaders had been involved in the disbursement of state funds, that two months allocations would be combined to pay one month’s full salary.
“We have kept this arrangement since 2015 and sometimes more is paid with the interventions,’’ he added.