- The Benue state government's attempt to downsize its wage bill has met stiff resistance from those benefiting from the status quo
- The government however vowed to move on with its plan despite attempts by those involved to result to blackmail
- The government says the current wage bill of the state's workforce is unacceptable and can't be sustained
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue has chided opposition elements in the state for playing politics with issues concerning the current wage bill of its workers.
The governor who constituted a committee led by his deputy, Benson Abounu, to prune down the state's wage bill from N7.8 billion to N4.5 billion, vowed that his government will carryout with the exercise despite the distractions.
A statement sent to NAIJ.com by the governor's spokesman, Terver Akase, stated that the government is determined to downsize the state's wage bill to a manageable level.
“While we appreciate the interest shown by those who are genuinely concerned about the bloated wage bill of the state, we wish to state that the process that will lead to reduction in the high wage bill is still on.
“The committee headed by the deputy governor, Engineer Benson Abounu is at the concluding stage of its assignment and will soon present its final report to the State Executive Council for implementation,” the statement said.
Governor Ortom reiterated his earlier stance that this government will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that the wage bill is realistic, adding that it will pave way for regular payment of workers' salaries.
“The target of the state government is to reduce the wage bill at both state and local government levels from N7.8 billion to N4.5 billion.
“More articles of blackmail and distraction from ghost owners and their footsoldiers should be expected in the days to come as the state government moves to implement the Abounu committee's report.
“We reassure the people of the state that no amount of blackmail from those who brought Benue to the current salary situation by inflating the wage bill with thousands of ghost names on the payroll, can discourage Governor Ortom and his team from doing what is right before the law,” the statement concluded.
Two months ago, Governor Ortom declared a state of emergency on payment of salaries in Benue as labour unions in the state insist on prompt payment of salaries, despite the financial realities on ground.
The governor had lamented over the high wage bill in the state implemented by the past administration, which he said made things difficult for his government.
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