Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, today directed that officials of the National Union of Local Government Employees, NULGE, and National Union of Teachers, NUT, be involved in council’s Joint Account meetings as well as payment of bailout funds.
Governor Ortom who gave the directive at an interactive session with journalists at the old Banquet Hall of Benue Peoples House shortly on arrival from a trip to the United States of America stated that the initiative was in line with the transparency and accountability policy of his administration.
He said it was the right of the workers and other Benue people to know how the finances of the state were being managed, stating that he had approved the commencement of payment of state workers’ salaries for September, 2015.
According to him the state received only N2.6 billion as last month’s allocation while the salary wage bill for state workers for September was over N3.4 billion without overheads adding that since salaries were a priority additional funds would be sourced to pay without the overheads.
He lamented the persistent shortfall of statutory allocations to the local governments which he said has led to challenge of paying salaries at that level stressing that the biometric screening exercise and beefing up of internally generated revenue were measures being taken to salvage the situation.
Governor Ortom disclosed that the State was yet to access the bailout package from the Federal Government, explaining however, that documentation with the Central Bank has been completed.
He stated that the final processes were taking place at the United Bank for Africa, UBA, for state workers and Fidelity Bank for local government staff maintaining that they would soon be completed and the funds accessed.
The Governor directed the Bureau of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs to always make public, information about funds allocated to councils from the federation account, emphasizing that his administration will never deduct or divert local government funds.
On the post-amnesty program for those who surrendered arms in the state, Governor Ortom said it included payment of stipends to the affected persons and retreat for them adding that security arrangements including the provision of vehicles have been made to track and arrest those who have not complied.
Governor Ortom also disclosed that he would host a stakeholders’ forum across partisan lines next week to unveil the draft of his administration’s Blueprint so as to get more inputs even as he would give an account of his stewardship at the meeting.