From Uche Nnorom Makurdi
Former Governor of Benue State Gabriel Suswam has lampooned his successor Governor Samuel Ortom describing his claim of 7.8 billion naira as the state’s wage bill as absolutely ‘ridiculous’ and ‘funny’.
But Special Adviser to Governor Samuel Ortom on Media and ICT Tahav Agerzua swiftly responded by accusing the former governor of being envious of the rising profile of Governor Samuel Ortom especially on enactment and implementation of the anti-open grazing law which he could not do during his time.
Suswam who spoke to journalists in Makurdi when he attended the yearly graduation of his wife Yemi Suswam’s pet programme Sev-Av foundation at the weekend, accused Governor Ortom of paddling the wage bill of the state.
He maintained strongly that when he was in office in May 2015, the wage bill of the state stood at 2.7 billion naira, observing that it is the same amount that the Ortom used to pay salaries from June to September.
The ex-governor also, said he handed a workforce of 19,000 to the present government, vowing to publish the accurate wage of the state next week.
“It is rather funny and absolutely ridiculous that the government would claim it is paying over 7.8 billion naira as wage bill. At the time I left office I paid 2.7 billion naira. I have the document of what this government paid from June to September 2015 and it is not different from what I paid. So, at the time they starting talking about 7.8 billion which is rather too ridiculous. There is something fundamentally wrong with that. They are creating a wrong impression and we will publish the figure I paid during my eight (8) years in office. If anything was added, it should have from December of that year”, Suswam said.
He further accused Governor Ortom of failure to differentiate between salaries of workers and overhead.
“Let us know how much they are paying as overhead, salaries of local government which is a different tier of Government. You cannot jumble their salaries with those of core civil servants. They should come out and tell us because I have evidence of what I paid and what is paid now.
But Tahav insisted that the governor was working and not giving excuses, maintaining that under this administration, insecurity in the state has been reduced through the amnesty programme which employed the carrot and stick approaches, adding that a lot of weapons were seized during the exercise and destroyed openly in government house according to the UN instructions.
He said the governor is even renovating Government College which is Suswam’s alla mater that he failed to do.
He lambasted Suswam for employing a lot of people at the twilight of his administration and left without paying them, adding that he collected over 400 million as arrears for overheads two(2) day to the end of his administration.
“I read on Facebook that he said he will publish the documents about the wage bill so let him do that, let him bring them, he does not have the monopoly of documents. We are waiting for the documents. People in custody of the documents are still in office. Suswam is being prosecuted for being a kleptomania and sleaze,” Tahav said.