By James Ibechi
Special Adviser on Media and ICT to the Governor of Benue State, Tahav Agerzua, has hinted that Governor Samuel Ortom administration needs N40billion to clear the outstanding salary arrears owed state workers.
Agerzua gave the hint in a statement issued on Sunday in Makurdi the state capital.
The governor’s senior media aide said Ortom had not breached his agreement with labour leaders in the state concerning the mode of salary payment, dispelling speculations in some quarters that the administration was owing workers up to 10 months at a stretch.
He said Governor Ortom had kept his agreement with labour leaders that as a result of insufficient funds, the federal allocation of two months would be combined to pay one month’s complete salary for workers.
The thoroughbred media aide said it is the accumulation of the unpaid months that gave the wrong impression of 10 months at a stretch.
Meanwhile, Governor Ortom expressed regrets that the N8.2 billion inherited wage bill had compounded the financial situation of the state, saying his administration had, however, reduced the wage bill to N7.8 billion, adding that the recovery of looted funds would help address the challenge of unpaid salaries faced by his administration.
He alleged that N107 billion had been looted from the coffers of the state government and that one of the persons indicted by an investigative panel had refunded N370 million.
He further said N4.5 billion bond proceeds that had been diverted, had also been recovered and channeled to the original purpose it was meant.
The governor said the state of emergency declared on the payment of salaries would focus on reducing the wage bill and clearing the backlog of arrears owed workers.
He said the government was working hard to turn around the fortunes of the moribund industries.