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NLC Blackmailing Benue State Government – Gov. Ortom Says…

Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom has said his state inherited arrears of salary, pensions and gratuities of about N69 billion, which bailout fund and Paris Club refunds have not been able to clear.

He accused the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) at the national level of blackmailing his government and inciting workers to embark on strike.

Ortom, who spoke yesterday at a book launch in Abuja, said his state was paying the highest salary to workers in the country and challenged the leadership of labour to contradict his claim by coming out with superior facts.

He also challenged labour leaders to take his government to anti-corruption agencies, if they felt he was not fair to workers in the appropriation of the Federal Government bailout fund.


The governor said the leadership of labour should do a comparative analysis of remuneration of Benue workers with other states, insisting he paid higher than any other state.

He said his government was open to dialogue, urging anybody with superior programmes to tackle the issue by bringing it to the dialogue table.

“I believe discussion is still on. We will still talk even though I feel we should not be discussing our problems in the media. I have told them to bring the issues to the table because the government is ready to put the figures on the table for anyone to see.

“It is part of our transparency and accountability. One thing I can assure you is that we have formed a process of working towards it. It is not enough for the leadership of the labour union to incite the workers to go on strike at the national level and Benue State.

“For me, it is not the best way of unionism and taking care of workers. Benue State has a peculiar problem. We inherited a debt of N69billion of pension, gratuity and salary.

“Now, the intervention from the Federal Government called Paris Club or bailout as they call it, even though it is a loan all together cannot clear the N69 billion debt arrears. So, the challenge is still there and everybody knows about it.


“The figures are on the table for everyone to see. For us, Benue is one of the states in the country paying the highest salary as at today I am talking to you. I challenge you to compare your note.

“In other states where permanent secretaries are receiving N230,000, we are paying N500,000 because that is what we inherited. We believe in dialogue and discussion and if you have superior programmes that can make things better for Benue people, bring them to the table for discussion.

“It is not just enough to go and incite people to go on strike to prove that the government is not paying. They should ask what has been the history. I challenge them to do analysis of what has been on ground.

“The good thing is that none of the anti-corruption agency can indict us for misappropriation of bailout fund because we have been very transparent. That is where we are now,” Ortom said.

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