According to him, this has made the state’s monthly wage to rise up to N7.9 billion, including N4.2 billion for salaries, pension and gratuity as well as N3.7 billion for local governments.
Gov Samuel Ortom
He said the state government could not sustain such monthly wage bill, adding that his government has commenced a comprehensive audit of staff to fish out ghost workers and remove personnel due for retirement still on the pay roll.
Ortom, who disclosed this to State House correspondents after a meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said the staff audit, which will last for three months, would put the government in a better position to pay all salaries owed workers at state and local government levels.
He said: “You will recall that I declared a state of emergency on payment of salaries, and I want to have the capacity to pay salaries as and when due because a worker deserves his wages.
‘’We discovered that there were so many leakages on our payroll and ghost workers and infiltration here and there.
“Ghost workers, those who were due for retirement are still in the service, those who are dead are still collecting salaries and all that.”
‘’So, we believe that at the end of the day we will be able to scale down to a level that we will be able to pay salaries as and when due.”
The governor said his administration inherited a monthly wage bill of N8.2 billion from the government of former Governor Gabriel Suswan but reduced it to N7.9 billion which he said he was working hard to scale down.
He said: “Though we inherited N8.2 billion and through various screenings, we were able to scale down to N7.9 billion.”
He further explained that the administration was currently applying a modified table payment system that will last through the period of the staff screening, adding, however, that no cash was involved in the system.
“What we are doing now is modified table payment. No cash will be involved but we do it and you collect your money through the bank, and we have already started making discoveries,” he said.
Governor Ortom also expressed happiness with the flag off of export of yams by the Federal Government to the United Kingdom and America to boost government’s policy of diversifying the economy.
He said Benue State government and farmers would take full advantage of the yam export programme and other agriculture produce such as sesame seeds and soybeans.
“Of course, the chairman of yam exportation is from Benue State, a Professor from Federal University of Agriculture and we are deeply involved in it.
‘’We believe that this is the way to drive the economy, diversifying it to agriculture and exporting it. Earning hard currency will add value to our economic development,’’ he said.