….vows to scale down workers’ huge wage bill
By Lawrence Olaoye
Ahead of 2019 Presidential election, Benue state governor, Samuel Ortom, has endorsed President Muhammadu Buhari for second term even though he has yet to declare his intention to run.
Ortom gave the endorsement yesterday while briefing State House Correspondents after a meeting with the President behind closed doors.
The Benue state governor also called on the security agencies to arrest the leaders of the Miyetti-Allah Cattle Breeders Association for declaring that they would make his state ungovernable should he implement a recently passed law mandating herdsmen to ranch their cows.
According to him, adequate provisions have been made to provide land for any herdsman to ranch his cattles just as he called on all those herdsmen interested in plying their trade in Benue state to comply with the law.
Ortom, while responding to question on the salary crisis in his state, also hinted on his decision to review the wage burden from its present N7.8 billion to N4.5 billion monthly.
Asked why he visited the President, the governor said “I came to appreciate the President him and to encourage him to be steadfast and committed to his leadership. I believe that what God brought him to achieve in this country, he will definitely achieve it. Now we see him bouncing every day to the glory of God. We appreciate this and we look forward that God will help him to take us through 2015 to 2019 and then 2019 to 2023.
That is our prayer because for now, there is no credible candidate as far as I know that has the capacity to take Nigeria out of where we are today. I believe Mr. President has the capacity and let God sustain his health and consummate his healing so that Nigeria can be on the right path.”
On Miyetti-Allah threats, Ortom said he briefed the President on the matter just as he called for their arrest.
He said “Miyetti-Allah has taken us to court and we are there with them. But I don’t see how they will come and over run Benue and make it ungovernable. It is not going to be accepted. We stand by what we have done; we have done our legitimate, lawful role as governor, as citizens of the state. So, we don’t see how somebody will sit somewhere and say that we should not implement a law that has restored peace in our place.
If you want to bring confusion I want to assure you that I have directed the security men to arrest those people. I am calling for the arrest of the leadership of Meyetti Allah, to be prosecuted to serve as a deterrent.”
On the issue of the bloated wage burden, Ortom said “I want to assure you that we are going to prosecute anyone who is found culpable in the salary inflation. Honestly, N7.8 billion wage bill for Benue State is out of place and there is no way we will continue in this manner. I and my council, we have looked at the wage bill and compared with what people are collecting elsewhere in the country and we have come to an average of N4.5 billion that we just have to review it to that. Because an average income for Benue State both from federation account and IGI stands at slightly above N6 billion. So, if you are paying salaries alone you are have a deficit of N1.8 billion a month. It is impossible and we have security issues to tackle and several other things that government must run and so it becomes a big problem.”