2019: Buhari fit to run for second term – Ortom

2019: Buhari fit to run for second term – Ortom
October 17 21:07 2017

By Ahmed Idris

Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state on Tuesday in Abuja declared that President Muhammadu Buhari deserves to stand for re-election in 2019 because he remains the only presidential candidate with capacity to deliver up to 2023.

The governor said this while speaking to State House correspondents after a close-door meeting with the President.

“I came to appreciate the President and to encourage him to be steadfast and committed to his leadership. I believe that what God brought him to achieve in this country, he will definitely achieve it.

“Now we see him bouncing every day to the glory of God. We appreciate this and we look forward that God will help him to take us through 2015 to 2019 and then 2019 to 2023.

“That is our prayer because for now, there is no credible candidate as far as I know that has the capacity to take Nigeria out of where we are today.. I believe Mr. President has the capacity and let God sustain his health and consummate his healing so that Nigeria can be on the right path,” he said.

Ortom also old journalists that the state government can no longer tolerate a monthly wage bill of N7.8 billion and has begun process of reducing it to an average of N4.5 billion.

He said he inherited N69 billion pensions, gratuities and salaries arrears and over N70 billion contractual obligations which contributed to the huge debt burden of the state.

He said: “I also briefed the President about the ecological problem in Benue state and my major challenge of payment of salaries. It is not deliberate and we have not diverted money whether bail out or Paris club anywhere, the records are there for anyone to scrutinize and see.

“The situation is that I inherited N69 billion arrears on pensions, gratuities and salaries. Then over N70 billion contractual obligations and so it has been a huge burden on our finances and so Mr. President too has promised to find ways that the state can also get support.

“The issue is that we must admit that Benue State Wage Bill is one of the highest in this country, N7.8 billion. My predecessor admitted that there was mistake in negotiating with them but they resisted attempts to bring it down, now we have no choice.

“We have said it specially when the leadership of the labour congress came and we dialogued and we have set up technical committees comprising technical team from labour congress and technical team from my government, they will look at it and review wage bill and ensure that leakages are eliminated, salary padding and ghost workers and all that are eliminating

“I want to assure you that we are going to prosecute anyone who is found culpable in the salary inflation. Honestly, N7.8 billion wage bill for Benue state is out of place and there is no way we will continue in this manner.. I and my council, we have looked at the wage bill and compare with what people are collecting elsewhere in the country and we have come to an average of N4.5 billion that we just have to review it to that. Because an average income for Benue State both from federation account and IGI stands at slightly above N6 billion.

“So, if you are paying salaries alone you are have a deficit of N1.8 billion a month. It is impossible and we have security issues to tackle and several other things that government must run and so it has become a big problem. I don’t have problems with my workers because they understood it, we are transparent, everybody has seen what we are doing but we have to find a way around it. I can assure you that in the next few weeks that is what we are working on and by the grace of God, we will come to a reasonable figure that we will be able to pay salaries as at when due.”