From: Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has said that financial interventions from the Federal Government to the state, though well appreciated, have not been enough to clear arrears of salary which he inherited on assumption of office as governor.
Governor Ortom disclosed this at the inauguration of Provinces three and four of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) in the state.
The inaugurations were held separately in Gboko and Makurdi, on Saturday.
He explained that he inherited salary, pension and gratuity arrears amounting to N69 billion which he offset substantially with the financial interventions.
While listing the interventions to include the bailout and Paris Club refunds, Governor Ortom, however, maintained that shortfalls from the monthly allocations have made it impossible to clear all the arrears.
The Governor recalled that at the time he took over, the monthly wage bill of the state including pensions, overheads and gratuity stood at N8. 2 billion without the implementation of the minimum wage for teachers which when implemented further increased the wage bill to about N8.5 billion monthly.
He said after series of screening exercises, the wage bill had been reduced to about N7. 8 billion which still remained one of the highest alongside industrialised states like Kano, Kaduna, and Ogun while the total monthly allocation to the stands at an average of N6 billion.
The governor also noted that as a result of the development, the state government reached an understanding with workers in the state that two months allocations would be combined to pay one month’s full salary which he had kept since 2015 adding that sometimes more was paid with the interventions.
He, however, appealed to the people of the state to continue to trust God to help him to surmount all the current challenges of statecraft just as he had overcome all the previous difficulties in his life even as he urged Christians not to murmur like the Israelite who had desired deliverance from Egypt did when they encountered difficulties in the wilderness but rather to look up to God for help with their prayers.
The governor expressed happiness that the Church expanded during his time, while enjoining Christians to pay whatever price it took to serve God positing that there were abundant blessings that followed those who served God in spirit and in truth.