Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, today revealed that much as he appreciated financial interventions from the federal government they have not been enough to clear the salary arrears which he inherited at the inception of his administration.
He spoke at the inauguration of Provinces four and three of the Redeemed Christian Church of God in the state which was held separately in Gboko and Makurdi.
Governor Ortom explained that he inherited salary, pension and gratuity arrears of N69 billion which he offset substantially with the interventions which included the bailout and Paris Club refunds pointing out however that shortfalls from the monthly allocations have made it impossible to clear the arrears.
He stated that at the time he took over the monthly wage bill of the state including pensions, overheads and gratuity was N8.2 billion without the implementation of the minimum wage for teachers which when implemented further increased the bill to about N8.5 billion.
According to him after series of screening exercises the bill had been reduced to about N7. 8 billion which still remained one of the highest alongside industrialized states like Kano, Kaduna, and Ogun while the total monthly allocation to the stands at an average of N6 billion.
He said following the development the state government reached an understanding with the state workers whose leaders have been involved in the disbursement of state funds that two months allocations would be combined to pay one month’s full salary which he has kept since 2015 adding that sometimes more is paid with the interventions.
Governor Ortom appealed to the people of the state to continue to trust God who would help him to surmount all the current challenges of statecraft just as he had overcome all the previous difficulties in his life.
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 to God for help with their prayers.
The Governor expressed happiness that the Church was expanding during his time and enjoined Christians to pay whatever price it took to serve God stressing that there were abundant divine blessings that followed those who served God in spirit and truth.