*Urged to crackdown bad eggs in civil service
By James Ibechi
Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom has blamed the ongoing labour strike on those involved in salary padding, or call them salary syndicate.
Ortom, who spoke when the Local Organising Committee of the 2017 International Convention of the Association of Nigerian Authors paid him a courtesy visit at the Benue Peoples House in Makurdi on Thursday, stated that the strike might be a ploy to frustrate the ongoing salary verification in the state.
Observers of the state affairs empathize with Ortom, saying the salary syndicate is a deep-rooted problem in the state civil service, which was compounded by the immediate past administration.
They said Governor Ortom must muster the political will to clamp down on may directors and other top civil servants in the ministries and parastatals who are alleged to be perpetrating the “evil”.
Benue chapter of the Nigerian labour Congress (NLC) began a one-week warning strike on Tuesday, Sept. 5, over the non-payment of salaries for several months.
State workers are owed six months salaries, while local government and primary school teachers are owed 11 months.
The governor wondered why labour leaders, who had been involved in the disbursement of all allocations to the state, would suddenly embarked on strike, feigning ignorance of the state’s financial situation.
“I smell a rat in the current strike action by workers; I suspect that it might be a ploy to frustrate the ongoing salary verification exercise.
“Upon deeper reflections, I realised that the strike might have been instigated by the same syndicate that was benefiting from the over-bloated salary bill; the group initiated the strike as a strategy to frustrate the verification exercise.”
The governor, however, vowed that his administration was determined to conclude the screening exercise in order to ascertain the genuine workers on the payroll.
He explained that he had been faithful in implementing his agreement with labour – combining federal allocations of two months to pay one month full salary to all categories of workers.
The governor expressed willingness to support the association to hold the 2017 Convention in the state because of his conviction that only ideas could take the country out of its current challenges.
Ortom also expressed willingness to host Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, who shall pay a pre-convention sensitisation visit to the state next week.
He described Soyinka as a man, who has developed his God-given talent to the fullest and had mentored many people across the world, and urged others to also identify their talents and exploit them.
In his remarks, Chairman, organizing committee, Prof. Idris Amali, said that the committee had come to express appreciation to the Governor for supporting the activities of the association and accepting to host the conference.