Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, today pledged to investigate why funds from the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme, Sure-P, meant for payment of those engaged in Benue were not available for them.
He made the disclosure while addressing those affected who were protesting the non-payment of their stipends and had blocked his way to the office at the gate to the Benue Peoples House.
The protesters led by David Mbakpenev accused the government of being insensitive to their plight.
Mbakpenev regretted that the government was employing new staff through the Urban Development Agency to replace them when they were owed seven months’ salaries.
“Starting from January this year we are yet yo be paid our salaries and the situation has caused us a lot of family problems as we are unable to pay school fees, hospitals bills among others,” he stated.
“We are suffering even when we are government staff. Now the people at the Urban Development Agency are employing others to replace us even when they are still owing us and have abandoned us to our fate”.
Governor Samuel Ortom denied the allegations of insensitivity and employment of others to replace the existing ones levelled against the government but commended the protesters for adopting a peaceful approach to communicate their grievances.
He disclosed that he had already constituted a committee to investigate the entire Sure-P program and where its funds had gone leading to the present situation stressing that the government was not recruiting new cleaners in the state.
Governor Ortom stated that while it was impracticable to continue with the program he promised to find another way to cater for the widows and other vulnerable people that were beneficiaries even as he appealed for understanding and some patience for him to tackle the challenge.
He explained that he inherited over N90 billion debt burden from the past administration adding that “by the grace of God we will not allow the staff who are mostly widows to suffer”.
“By the grace of God we shall pay your arrears even as nobody is employing anybody to replace you people. Though the Sure-P program has ended, we shall find something for you people to do,” the Governor stated.
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