We don’t owe salaries in Benue —Wombo
Mr Solomon Wombo, Special Adviser to the governor of Benue, Gabriel Suswam, on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, speaks with Babajide Johnson on issues and the challenges currently confronting the government in the state.
THERE have been speculations that Benue State is broke, the reason salaries of local governments staff have not been paid?
It is really lack of knowledge for people to insinuate so. I do not know whether you have youth corps members in your offices, but the ones in my office told me that their allowances were not paid by the Federal Government. Benue State government has paid salaries up to date. If you take the salary bill for instance in the last three months and compare with this month, you will observe variances. About six months ago, we had a total of 23,000 staff in our local governments, but now, the number has shot up to 29,000. Money should be accounted for. In this view, we said okay let’s cut the number of the staff especially those that were for December, pay them and then employ through whatever means. Between January and now, let’s look at them and find out why this number has gone beyond what we had.
The local governments in the state are not bankrupt. We have paid salaries up till the moment I am speaking with you. There was a general drop in allocation and this everyone knows. There are many local governments in other states that have not been able to pay salaries of staff. These insinuations are the handiwork of opposition parties. Why are they making so much noise without coming out with proofs? The other administration had all the money they wanted including the excess crude, but we have lean funds and we are paying everybody. Staff matters take top priority to this government because we believe that they deserve to get benefit for work done.
What about the complaints by council chairmen of insufficient funds to execute projects?
Chairmen in the state have enough funds to pay salaries and still execute projects. They should stop complaining except they are just deceiving the people. We discovered that in a certain local government, there was duplication of staff which amounted to over 200. There is no justification whatever for any council area to have up to 2000 staff. We are trying to cleanse the system so to ensure prudence.
The Federal High Court judgment had validated Suswam’s election. What is your view about that?
When people talk of the governo’s r certificate issue, it is something that appears very foolish. This is because we were classmates at the School of Basic Studies in Makurdi. While Suswam was being screened, I stood behind him and was screened after him. WAEC screens your result at the entry point and we were on the line together. So I am surprised by what Terver Kakih said he got from the newspapers about the governor’s GCE result for goodness sake. We were not up to 20 years when we went through all these.
For someone to come with such claims, it is mischievous, deceitful and meant to cause disharmony among the people. Suswam is well schooled in academics.Share