From Uche Nnorom, Makurdi
In a bid to reduce the over bloated wage bill of the State, Benue State government has constituted a seven (7) man visitation panel to probe and ascertain the staff strength and actual wage bill of the Benue State University (BSU).
It would be recalled that during an interaction with newsmen recently, Governor Samuel Ortom had fumed at the high wage bill of the University, decrying the adamant refusal of Staff of the institution to undergo screening exercise.
“They are not above the law. I must probe the institution no matter what it takes. We spent over 600 million to pay salaries of the staff which is one of the highest in the country. This is unacceptable, “the Governor fumed.
Hence, this necessitated the constitution of the panel which was inaugurated yesterday by the Deputy Governor Benson Abounu.
Swearing in the panel, Abounu who is also Chairman salaries verification committee, said the panel is saddled with the task of ascertaining the records of the inflow and out flow of money into the institution.
He added that government had in the last few months been working tirelessly to establish the true wage bill of the state which was currently over bloated, to enable it pay salaries as at when due.
He said “We are making progress in that direction which will ensure that the issue of backlog of unpaid salaries is put to rest in no distant time”
The Governor directed the panel to carry out an audit of the university’s payroll in the last three years to ascertain the actual burden, the current expenditure liabilities and suggest any sustainable measure to ensure timely payment of salaries.
“I also urge you to come out with suggestions on any other issues that would strengthen the university to help the institution realize its objectives.
“The exercise is not a witch hunt or intended to sack any staff but to strengthen the institution for better service delivery”, the governor said.
He noted that the panel was set up in line with the law establishing the university which is vested on him as its visitor.
Responding, chairman of the panel, Chief Tony Egwu assured that members would justify the confidence reposed in the panel by diligently carrying out the assignment in line with the policy of the administration.
The panel which has three weeks to complete the assignment and submit its report has Prof. Emmanuel Apedzan, Prof. Alamveabee Idyorough, Mr. Timothy Dim, Raphael Ogah, Mrs. Kukase Garuba as members while Mr. Bem Amenger would serve as secretary.