Why I cannot pay workers’ salaries- Gov. Ortom

Benue Governor, Samuel Ortom [Photo credit: www.linknaija.com]
Benue Governor, Samuel Ortom [Photo credit: www.linknaija.com]

Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state has urged striking civil servants to understand that Benue State’s financial constraints have made it difficult for it to meet their demands.

Workers across the state downed tools on Tuesday, after going several months without pay.

The Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, and Trade Union Congress, TUC, have engaged the Ortom administration in a series of negotiations spanning months, but the talks yielded a little result, according to the union officials.

The workers, some of whom were said to have endured up to nine months without pay, accused the governor of breaking his campaign promise to prioritise their welfare, a claim the governor countered.

“We have spoken with them but they have not been fair to me because they’re always carried along about the financial situation of the state and what is shared by the government,” Mr Ortom told PREMIUM TIMES in an interview at his official residence Thursday.

“Even though I want all workers to be paid for their hard work when you don’t have what would you do?” he added.

The governor denied claims that he squandered his state’s share of the Paris Club refund, stating that 80 per cent of the windfall actually went into settling workers’ salaries.

“Eighty per cent was used for workers’ salaries,” he said of the N6.4 billion his state received from the Paris Club reimbursement in July.

Mr. Ortom said he had been grappling with massive debt he inherited from his predecessors, in a state that ranks low in internally-generated revenue.

“I have salary arrears, gratuity and pension liability of over N40 billion,” he said. “So the N6.4 billion is a drop in the ocean.”

He said prior to the industrial action, the state had resolved to pay workers bi-monthly rather than monthly while implementing a minimum wage of N18,000 per month for teachers.

“What we do is we pay one-month full salary every two months. I met a wage bill of N8.2 billion without implementation of teachers’ minimum wage, which I did,” he said.

“My IGR (internally generated revenue) is N250 million on average and I get a little over N3 billion from the federal government.

“We have other challenges like security and (the) government must run,” he added.

The governor said sharp practices in personnel payroll have also contributed adversely to the state’s financial crisis but said new measures were being put in place to expel ghost workers.

“Modified table payments will help us after eliminating ghost workers and we’ll be able to pay workers who are working as and when due.”


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  • Ola

    N250 Million a month IGR , should this be a State?

    • MilitaryPolice01

      It is sad.

    • Sword of Damocles

      Finally a THOUGHTFUL question. Welfare pseudo-state. Why should the Feds support any of these pseudo-states who are pennyless with zero ingenuity on how to generate revenue for their states, and their executives are thieving marauders?

      • PolyGon2013

        They can merge with other viable state in the North.

    • Mnenna

      The man is lying. Benue State generates over a billion internally.

      • Bigtin

        Proof it!

    • Onike24

      My sentiments exactly! Meaning some business turn over more than a business generates a month? How is this possible!

  • Ibraheem Aruna

    Okay. The financial precariousness of the state is now understood.
    How about negotiating with stakeholders, traditional rulers, local government chairmen, state representatives in the national assembly, state senators in Abuja and then submit a bill to the state house to merge Benue state with any other viable nearby state.

    • Opekete

      Good point. Civil service in Nigeria is a cesspool of corruption. Venue state with her internally generated revenue should not have more than 1000 civil servant including teachers. This is a glorified local government. Period

    • GusO

      Good point! Unviable States should begin merging with viable States to reduce the suffering of the workers and the citizenry.

  • thusspokez

    The governor denied claims that he squandered his state’s share of the Paris Club refund, stating that 80 per cent of the windfall actually went into settling workers’ salaries.

    The gold wristwatch the Governor Ortom is wearing in the photo, can help pay the salaries of a few workers.

  • emmanuel

    Ortom should not get a second term by any means. He is a cheat, fraud, insensitive to his people and overtly ambitious. His spirit is as ugly as his looks.
    During his time, Benue state has lost so much of their farming activities (their major occupation) to herdsmen and deserted homes, the worker and pensioners are left dry and unfortunate, flood has ravaged the state.
    Re-election is a no no for Ortom

  • GbemigaO

    One of the most incompetent Governors in the country ! So uninspiring! WHat has he done to improve the IGR of the state , attract business and manage it effectively. Why aspire to become Governor when you are going to leave the place worse . What is the difference between the state and a local government in Lagos or Ogun. This man should be demoted to be a local government chairman !

  • PolyGon2013

    Reduce the size of government by at least 30%! Then, develop sophisticated means to collect IGR. Be innovative!

  • This is a wicked “governor”. He should be recalled immediately.

  • GusO

    He cast a sorry and helpless condition for himself but the Governor can and should do more. He should go out to look for investment in Agriculture, Industries and Tourism for his State. Eastern Benue by the Cameroonian border is very beautiful. He should establish tourism in the region to encompass the River Katsina-Ala. He should have removed fake workers from the payroll by now but he didn’t. He should travel outside the country to bring in developers to develop Agriculture. Benue produces the most yams by far in the nation. Let him make provisions for their export and generate internal revenue from their sales. He seems somewhat clueless as a leader.

  • Gabriel Ominyi

    Ortom benefitted from protest votes against Suswam. Now he has no ongoing projects and can’t pay salaries. Should resign if he has any honour.