The immediate past Minister of Interior, Comrade Patrick Abba Moro, has strongly warned the Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, not to divert the latest tranche of the Paris Club loan refund for any other purpose, but for the payment of salaries and allowances owed workers in the state.
Benue State had gotten N6.8 billion from the latest tranche of the Paris Club loan refund amounting to N243.8 billion.
Moro, a top member of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said the Ortom-led All Progressives Congress (APC) government in Benue State, cannot continue to misapply the bailout funds and Paris Club loan refunds released to the state for the payment of the backlog of salaries and allowances of workers.
Speaking in Abuja, the former minister noted that the non-payment of workers’ salaries have inflicted severe pain and suffering on civil servants in the state, as they could no longer afford to cater for their immediate needs.
He said, “I would honestly advise Governor Ortom this time around to prudently and judiciously apply this latest tranche of the Paris Club loan refund that has been released to Benue State.
“By the records of the Federal Ministry of Finance, the N6.8 billion released to Benue State must be strictly applied to the payment of salaries and allowances of workers of Benue State.
“I insist that Benue State is a purely agrarian state, a purely civil service state. And the concomitance of the non-payment of salaries and allowances to public servants like I keep saying is that children of public servants cannot go to school.
“It means that public servants cannot pay their health bills and those of their children and family members. And like I said before and I want to repeat here, it means that common ailments can kill any one of them because they cannot afford the bills for hospitals.
“So, I think that it is in the interest of the APC-led government of Benue State that this latest tranche of the refund is applied strictly for the payments of salaries and allowances of workers in Benue State and local governments. This is about the third tranche of bailout now that Benue State is receiving. Previously various excuses have been advanced as to why salaries are not paid.”
Wondering why the governor has been threatening to sack wirkers as if that ia the panacea for the problem of non-payment of salaries in the state, the PDP chieftain said, “It is unfortunate that the Benue State government having declared a state of emergency on salaries is still threatening to sack workers.
“Definitely, that is not going to be a solution to the problem of non-payment of salaries.
“Threatening to sack university lecturers, professors, PhD holders, lecturers of various categories definitely cannot solve the problem of non-payment of salaries, because the allowances and salaries that people are complaining about are already earned. And so if you sack them you must pay them, you cannot run away from that. And besides you don’t pick professors of university from the street.
“PhD holders in the university certainly are not employees that you pick from the street. So, it is my hope that the governor and government of Benue State will have a rethink on their threat to sack such unique segment of the public service in Benue State.
“But I think that what is important here is that as the President has consistently advised, all bailout funds should be applied to the payment of salaries of workers in all the states. There is no excuse for not doing that,” he stated.
Moro also lamented the situation where Benue State under Governor Ortom has always been in the news for the negative reasons, noting that it was not good for the image of the state.
According to him, “It is very unfortunate. Benue `State has always been mentioned in the negative all the times. When they mention states that are not paying salaries, Benue State is there. If they mention states that have misapplied bailout funds and funds accruing to the states, Benue State is there. Benue State doesn’t deserve that. We can do better than that.”