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NLC, Benue govt. tango over FG’s financial interventions

NLC President unfair to Benue Srare Government – Agerzua

From: Rose Ejembi, Makurdi

The National President of Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Alhaji Ayuba Wabba, has berated the Benue State Government for what he described as ‘lack of transparency in the handling of Federal Government’s financial interventions to the state’.

Governor Samuel Ortom of the state had always insisted that financial interventions from the Federal Government, though well appreciated, was not enough to clear the outstanding salaries of N69 billion he inherited from his predecessor.

But Wabba, on Monday, lamented the plight of Benue workers whom he said were owed up to seven months salary with their local government workers and pensioners owed up to 11 months and 13 months respectively.

“It is unheard of that in Benue, state civil servants are owed seven months salary, 11 months for local government workers and 13 months pension arrears. This shows the ingenuity of the state government.”

Speaking with newsmen when he led members of the National Executive Council of NLC to Makurdi, the Benue State capital, Wabba maintained that the national leadership of NLC had met and written to President Muhammadu Buhari on the need to account for all the previous interventions before the release of further tranches of the Paris Club to the state.

According to him, “We have just officially written to Mr president that the subsequent release of tranches should be predicated on how accountable they have been made to account for all the three interventions, the bail out and the two tranches of already paid.

“We are here in Benue to strengthen  our members and also to urge them to represent effectively the interest of workers because there would be always contestation  about how we are able to prioritise our interest.

“I was telling the members today that the situation of Plateau and Benue were similar in 2015 but today  due to ingenuity  and the transparent utilisation of the Paris club, bailout refunds, Plateau government has liquidated all the salary arrears.”

“The situation in Benue is very precarious that is why I have to make this journey to Benue, We had interface with leaders of the union and thereafter they have to meet on their own to take some far reaching decision to be communicated to us in few days ahead”.

On the proposed new minimum wage, the NLC National President maintained that their struggle now was timely because as from 2018 there would be distraction when politics set in and resources will be committed to campaign.

The Benue State Government, however, has fired back at the National President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Wabba saying, he is ‘unfair to the Governor Samuel Ortom’s administration’.

Reacting to the allegation by the NLC leadership, Special Adviser to Governor Ortom on Media and ICT, Tahav Agerzua, insisted that Wabba did not have the facts as far as the issue of salaries in Benue State were concerned.

In the words pif Agerzua, “We read media reports credited to the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, on workers’ plight in Benue State and the position of government, being circulated in the media from Monday, 25th September, 2017, and could not believe that they emanated from him.

“If they did, the comments are most unfortunate and unfair to the Governor Samuel Ortom administration in the State. From the comments, it is obvious that Comrade Wabba does not have the facts as far as the issue of salaries in Benue State is concerned. He saved himself a lot of embarrassment by not quoting any figures which in itself reveals that he did not stand on solid ground.

Agerzua who maintained that there was no comparison whatsoever between Benue and Plateau states as far as wage bill was concerned insisted that the wage bill of Benue was far more than that of its Plateau counterpart.

“Plateau State monthly wage bill is about N1.5 billion while that of Benue is N4.1 billion at the state, N3.7 billion at the local government, including overheads and pensions. Still, Benue State receives an average of N6 billion federal allocation at both the state and local levels.

He posited that the monthly deficit experienced by the Benue State government was as a result of the high wage bill of N7.8billion in the face of only N6billion allocation which had made it impossible for the state to pay salaries as at when due.

“The NLC President failed to reckon with the fact that Governor Ortom inherited salary, pension and gratuity arrears of N69 billion which his Plateau State counterpart did not.”

The Media Adviser disclosed that major federal government financial interventions in the state have included N28 billion bailout, first and second tranches of the Paris Club refunds of N12.7 billion and N6.5 billion respectively but added that much as these have been appreciated, they could not offset N69 billion arrears in the face of a monthly shortfall of about N2 billion.

“Comrade Wabba obviously is not aware that Benue pays one of the highest wage bills in the country. The comrade could not give an accurate number of months Benue workers are being owed, but again, that only goes to point the fact that he was not properly briefed about the salary situation in the state.”

While noting that the Governor had appreciated the understanding and patience of the workers in the state and had been carrying them along but was constrained by inadequate funds to meet his obligations to them as at when due, Agerzua said  the NLC President ought to have commended Governor Ortom and also offered solutions to the problem rather than playing to the gallery as he did.


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Posted by on Sep 26 2017. Filed under Benue, Headlines, State News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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