Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has vowed to prosecute the cabal behind over bloated wage bill in the state which he said had made it difficult to pay workers salary as at when due.
The governor said that his administration is set to reduce the monthly wage bill of the state from 7.8 billion to N4.5 billion.
Ortom dropped this during the monthly stakeholders meeting held at the Government House in Makurdi, said that with the latest rank by the National Bureau of Statistics, Benue is ranked third among states with the highest wage bill in the country.
In the same vein, the state government is however considering two possible options to get out of the non-regular payment of workers’ salaries.
The deputy governor of the state, Engineer Benson Aboun, who also is the chairman screening committee to verify the actual workforce of both the state and local governments disclosed this at the stakeholders meeting.
Abounu who gave an interim report of his committee to stakeholders on Monday at government house, Makurdi explained that the committee is faced with reducing workers, salaries or retrench workers as possible solution to the non-regular payment of salary in the state.
The deputy governor noted that his committee discovered several anomalies that could have been responsible for huge wage bill of the state which he puts at N7.8 billion monthly.
Abounu explained that the shift allowance meant for category of workers on shift duty at the state health management board is being paid for all staffers of the board.
He noted that staffers of tertiary institution in the state collect SIWESS allowance every month instead of once a year, adding that students of non-accredited courses in some of the tertiary institution were always mobilizing for SIWESS.
The screening committee chairman also hinted the stakeholders that 7,746 local government staff across the state with a total emolument of N530 million were recruited without approval in the past 10 years.
According to him, ‘our committee was set up to look at legitimate earning of workers both at the state and local government and several anomalies were found which were contained in our interim report’.
“For instance, at health management board, shift allowance is meant for only those on shift duty but to our chagrin we discovered that all staff of this board were collecting shift allowance”.
“So also was undue allowances by staff in our tertiary institution, the staffers collect SIWESS allowance every month’.
“At local government level, when we carried out screening exercise, many came up with papers which added to 20,976 workforces, the additional figure is 7,746 staff and these people were recruited with no approval.”
“The last time approval was given was October, 2006 during Akume administration and the total amount for the illegal workers is N530,254,770.13.”
The deputy governor however said, ‘now we are faced with a reduction of salary at certain percentage to be negotiated by Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, or to retrench workers’.
Former governor of the state now a senator, Senator George Akume, when reacting noted that the system in the civil service, particularly, at local government areas is rotting and called on the stakeholders to rally round the state government to correct the anomalies in the civil service.