Ortom
Governor Samuel Ortom

By Peter Duru – Makurdi

Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state has said N1billion has been earmarked for the payment of gratuity of workers in the state from the loan facility being extended to states by the federal government.

He said he had also directed his Finance Commissioner as well as Accountant General of the state to ensure that all pensioners received their pay in the month of December.

The Governor who made this known shortly before signing the 2022 Appropriation Bill in Makurdi regretted that successive governments in the state have had to contend with the challenge of paying pensioners their entitlements.

Governor Ortom said his government had taken steps to finding a permanent solution to the challenge by domesticating the Pension Commission, PenCom, law in the state.

He said, “We are one of the few states that have domesticated the PenCom law which ensures that we make our 10 percent contributions to the scheme just like the workers and on retirement they get their entitlements. This will permanently take care of that challenge and our workers will be happier for it.”

The Governor said following the agreement his government reached with the leadership of pensioners in the state about seven months ago, Local Government Council Chairmen increased the monthly allocation to pensioners from N150million to N300million while the state pensioners had been getting N400million making a total of N700million.

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“This is what we have been doing in the past seven months. And since we started that we have not failed.

“As for the state pensioners, because of their large number and funds involved, they have been segmented in two. There is the Makurdi office which has large chunk of the pensioners; and there is the outside station like Gboko, Otukpo and others.

“So we have divided them into two, the Makurdi office and the outside station. We agreed with the union that we should be alternating N400million payments between the segments. We have not failed to respect that agreement no matter its implications to the finances of the state.”

“Despite the agreement we had with the leadership of pensioners, I have also directed that for this month of December the Accountant General and Finance Commissioner should get a loan to ensure that all pensioners in the state get paid for December.

“We have also resolved that N1billion of the N18billion loan coming from the federal government should be set aside for payment of gratuity to workers.”

He said the government would continue to prioritize the welfare of its workers and retired senior citizens and appealed for understanding.

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