The Benue State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Chief Odeh Ageh, on Thursday said the Obi Local Government’s lingering salary issue, which recently escalated with some workers taking to the street protesting non-payment against the state government, rather required a political solution.
Also, the commissioner reiterated that the N15.5billion part of the bailout for the payment of local government workers had a balance of over N1billion which is still in the account of the state government, awaiting complaints from some members of staff.
The commissioner who stated this at Obarike-Ito, the headquarters of Obi LGC and repeated it at Otukpo during the visit of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Zoning Committee to the area, urged the council workers yet to receive their bailout on account of one issue or the other, to approach the relevant committees of the state government.
Specifically, he advised the concerned workers to meet the committee headed by Deputy Governor, Benson Abounu and, or the committee that was set up mainly for the purpose of fast tracking of the disbursement of the bailout, headed by Special Adviser to the Governor on Employment and Labour Matters, Barr. Patricia Kupchi-Iyanya, and they would be paid if they have genuine complaints.
Chief Ageh debunked as inaccurate the recent newspaper reports credited to Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) that the state government had diverted the bailout fund, which he said had given the basis for suspicions in some places that Governor Ortom had truly diverted the bailout.
According to the commissioner, Ortom is a true God-fearing governor who had not and would never do anything to shortchange the people who voted him into power.
On the protest over salary issues in Obi LGA, Chief Ageh said though the protesters were exercising their rights by protesting, they could have availed themselves of the opportunity given by the state governor for any worker who still had issue with the bailout to meet the leadership of his or her local government council with their relevant documents, who would in turn or the concerned workers themselves go to the committee for resolution of the issues, since over N1billion balance of the bailout is still in the account of the state government for the purpose of entertaining genuine complaints of such workers.
He, however, said Obi and a few other councils had peculiar salary issues that required political solutions, of which on the part of Obi, he said some prominent sons and daughters of the LGA, including him had previously met with the committee on the bailout with the aim to resolving the impasse, expressing the hope that as soon as Governor Ortom returns from his China trade trip he would resolve the issues amicably.
He, therefore, asked for patience and support and above all prayers for the governor at such a time when not only Benue, but also more states of the federation were getting blighted by hard economic condition occasioned by the dwindling allocations from the Federation Account on account of the fall in the oil prices at the international market.