Gov. Samuel Ortom of Benue State has vowed to fish out ghost workers in the state’s public service and reduce the states’ wage bill from N7.8 billion to N4.5 billion.
Ortom stated this on Wednesday in Makurdi during an interactive session with journalists.He said the downsizing of the workforce was the panacea to the high wage bill.
The governor regretted that most local government councils had ghost workers on their payrolls.“We are determined to fish out these ghost workers, no matter the intimidation. I have the mandate of the Benue people up to 2019 and I will use it to work for the state,” he said.
He said the ghost workers were responsible for the high wage bill of the state.Ortom said it would not be possible for the state to clear the salary arrears of the state workers before the end of the year.
He said this was because the state was expecting only N6.8 billion from the remaining part of the Paris Club refunds.
He said the state would require N40 billion to clear the arrears of workers’ salaries. The governor also said he would screen the workers of the Benue State University, adding that their monthly subvention of N600 million was too much.
“We will do that screening, nothing will stop it. We will prosecute those found to be ghost workers.”
He said his administration had recovered N370 million from one of the firms indicted by an investigation panel set up by the state.
The governor added that about 13 other people indicted by the panel were being investigated by the anti-graft agencies.
He called on those indicted by the panel to refund all looted funds in their possessions to end ongoing prosecutions.
Commenting on the recent resignation of former Vice-President Abubakar Atiku from the APC, Ortom said it was of no consequence to the party. He said it was his right to resign, stating that, “After all, I defected to the APC from the PDP and today see where I am.”
Ortom, however, commended President Muhammadu Buhari for leading the country out of economic recession.He said Nigerians were in support of his policies and would not abandon him in 2019.
The governor also reacted to the claims by the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) that the enactment of the anti-open grazing law was a political gimmick to win sympathy for his re-election.He dismissed their submission as “laughable”.
He said Alhaji Garus Gololo who addressed a news conference where such claims were made was a wanted man by the Benue Police command in connection with security alarms and malicious claims.
Ortom, therefore, urged journalists to shun all comments from Gololo, saying he was “neither here nor there”.
The governor assured the journalists that his administration was not out to gag journalists but appealed to them to always balance their reports before publishing.