Benue State Chapter of the Action Democratic Party over the weekend rejected in its entirety the proposed wage cut/ retrenchment by the Benue State government under the watch of Governor Samuel Ortom.
The party’s position was contained in a press statement signed by its states chairman Hon Ochiedu Isah Aboh, a copy of which was made available to The AUTHORITY.
The statement said if government had efficiently utilized the monthly revenue allocation from the Federation Account, budget support funds, bailout funds and Paris Club refunds from the Federal Government to augment internal revenue to clear arrears of pensions and workers’ salaries it would not have found itself in the current financial mess stressing that at present, Benue State was still owing several months of pensions and salaries in spite of available revenue from the above sources.
The release noted that “The attention the Action Democratic Party (ADP), has been drawn to recent reports quoting Governor Samuel Ortom as calling for advice from Benue people on how to deal with the challenge of the State’s huge wage bill. He reportedly made the call at a recent stakeholders’ meeting in Makurdi after observing that the wage bill is one of the highest in the North and is unsustainable.
“Our understanding of the governor’s call for advice on the wage bill is that his government has made up its mind to cut salaries and or retrench workers. His public request for advice, therefore, is only meant to create the impression that the people of the state, as represented by the selected stakeholders, have given him the mandate to cut wages or retrench workers.”
It added what this portend was a lack of seriousness, prudence, administrative capacity, innovativeness, compassion and focus.
It informed it was a sad development that administration has implemented the following measures since 2015 when it came to power:
(1) Retention of the existing embargo on employment into the state civil service;
(2). Removal from the payroll the names of all civil servants employed by the preceding government between 2013 and 2015; (3) Setting up of judicial and administrative commissions of enquiry to ascertain the state of finances, assets and liabilities of the state government in the eight years preceding his administration; (4) Conduct of biometric identification of state civil servants, local government staff and primary school teachers; (5.) Direct screening of state civil servants among others expressing dismay that in spite of all this measures which were aimed at downsizing the wage bill of the state, its monthly bill keeps rising stressing that;
“In spite of these measures, the state’s wage bill keeps rising; and if in spite of the findings and recommendations of these exercises, government has no clue about what to do – other than wage cuts or retrenchment – it shows that the government is inept. If the government is awarding new contracts rather than pay backlogs of workers’ salaries and pensions, it means the government is not focused and is lacking in concern for the people’s welfare. If a government that rode to power on the promise of regular payment of salaries has accumulated more arrears than it inherited, in spite of special funds released by the Federal Government for that purpose, that government has failed to live up to expectation.”
“From the above submission, it is very clear that the Ortom administration is inept, lacks innovative solutions to even routine challenges, unfocused, imprudent, uncaring, and a disappointment to the people of Benue State. In short, for its inability to deal with the wage bill problem, the Ortom administration has failed and should resign to pave the way for those who are serious about governance.
“We therefore, enjoin Benue people and all Nigerians to team up with our movement, the Action Democratic Party (ADP) so that we can give the sound leadership that our state and our country need.”