The immediate past Minister of Interior, Comrade Abba Moro, has counseled the governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, to stop further lamentations and settle down to pay Benue State workers their entitlements.
Comrade Moro stated that Benue State workers who worked hard to get Ortom elected do not deserve the ill treatment being meted out to them by the governor.
Moro, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from Benue State, made this assertion in Abuja while reacting to the warning strike embarked upon by workers in the state public service.
Workers in Benue State under the aegis of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and its affiliate unions had, last week Tuesday embarked on a one-week warning strike to drive home their demand for the payment of months of wages owed them by the state government.
The PDP chieftain lamented the inability of Governor Ortom to pay workers their salaries and allowances and his failure to execute and commission any meaningful project that would impact on the lives of the people, despite the huge sums of funds that have accrued to the government since he assumed office as governor.
“It is not a lie when people say that as much as Three Hundred Billion Naira (N300bn) has passed through this (Ortom’s) administration since the last two years that it came to power.
“In fact, the combined effect of the statutory revenue allocations, bailout funds, Paris club refunds, loans that have been taken and internally generated revenue amounts to well over three hundred billion naira that has accrued to the Benue State government since the inception of the APC/Ortom led government.
“How much is the cumulative amount of salaries and allowances of Benue State workers and pensioners?” Moro asked.
The former Interior Minister challenged Ortom to publish item by item what Benue’s money has been used for that the government could not pay the salaries and allowances of workers.
Comrade Moro insisted that “the people of Benue State cannot continue to be pauperised while individuals and their businesses are growing by lips and bound.
Benue people are wallowing in abject poverty. Benue people are hurting. This is not acceptable.
“Sadly, the governor stated that the payment of salaries and allowances were not his priority since he was not elected just to pay salaries and allowances.
The tragedy of the Benue situation is that no meaningful projects have been undertaken, executed and commissioned since the inception of the APC/Ortom government in Makurdi.
Unless there are things that other people know that I don’t know.
While other states are executing and commissioning people-oriented projects, all we hear from the Benue State government are lamentations of paucity of funds and blaming of the past government even on a natural disaster such as flooding.
Where have the funds accruing to the government of Benue State taken flight to?” The PDP stalwart queried.
Wondering why the labour leaders were just waking up from their slumber, Moro said: “As a matter of fact, for some of us onlookers, the warning strike embarked upon by the NLC and its affiliate unions is long overdue.
It is a very, very sad development that Benue State workers have not been paid for upward of twelve months going by the governor’s admission that he had agreed with the unions to pay salaries every other month.
“Given that Benue State is purely a civil service agrarian state, the consequences of nonpayment of salaries on the ability of the people to pay school fees for their children and settle hospital bills for simple ailments are better imagined.
So, I do not know how those who are presiding over the affairs of the people in government house Makurdi feel when Benue people have become virtual beggars for monies to sustain their lives.”