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 top 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 N300billion has
passed through this 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/Ortomled
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 had 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 pauperized 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.”
The former minister faulted the
governor’s claim of co-opting union
leaders into the state’s joint accounts
allocation committee describing it
as an aberration.
He concluded that “such
unwarranted gesture from
the governor could have been
responsible for the ‘loud’ silence
displayed by the union leaders in
the face of the obvious refusal of
the governor to pay workers their
entitlements. This is a very sad
development for union leaders
to allow themselves to be cajoled
into being part of the profligate
government in Makurdi. Now that
the union leaders have realized that
they were hoodwinked into being
part of the sleaze in government in
Makurdi, it is expected of them to
resign and withdraw immediately
from the state government’s joint
account committee so as not
to become fait accompli in the
mismanagement of the funds of
Benue State and nonpayment of
worker’s salaries and allowances.”
He challenged Governor Ortom
and members of the state House of
Assembly to publish their last pay
slips to show that they have not
been paid for as long as workers
have not been paid.
Moro said he was pained that
Ortom became his governor as
averred by the governor’s media
aide because he knew that the Benue
helmsman lacked the capacity and
competence to administer the state
effectively, adding that “everybody
who knows this fact should be
pained.”
Continuing, he said “electing
Ortom governor was a grave
mistake for which Benue people
especially Benue State workers are
dearly paying. Electing Ortom was
a serious mistake that Benue people
and Benue State workers have to
live with for the next one year plus.”
The PDP adherent advised
Benue workers and people to look
inwards to sustain their lives, as
according to him, “Looking up to
the government in Makurdi for
survival is increasingly becoming a
mirage as the government has run
out of ideas for governance.”
Maintaining that he has nothing
personal against governor Ortom,
Moro stated that “I am very worried
that Benue State that the founding
fathers laboured so hard to build
was tilting towards a failed state.
Ortom should either rise up to the
challenge of governing Benue State
effectively or resign honorably.”
He urged “Benue people
especially the youths to braze up
to the challenge of 2019 to elect
a better, functional, efficient and
effective government in the state.”

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