The Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) has accused the Benue State Governor of not being truthful about the payment of accumulated salaries, pensions and gratuities owed civil servants in the State.
In a statement signed by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary Cassidy Madueke, the group said that it was baffling that the State government had to resort to lies in a bid to look good.
“Our attention has been drawn to the text of a press conference addressed by the Benue State Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Michael Inalegwu, in response to a recent statement issued by the Presidential spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, titled ‘The Incongruence of Governor Samuel Ortom.’
“Rather than quietly lick his wound, the Governor got one of his aides to attempt to counter the Presidency’s claim on non-payment of salaries by categorically stating that he has cleared all salary arrears and is now up to date.
“We see that comment as a bare-faced attempt to mislead Nigerians, especially as what Mallam Shehu said in that statement can be backed by verifiable facts.
“We are aware that just about a month ago, the state chapter of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) issued an ultimatum to Ortom to clear all arrears of salaries, pensions, and gratuities owed workers and pensioners.
“In response, the governor spoke about inheriting a N70bn salary and pension debt, and that he would explore ways of engaging Labour on the matter.
“We also have it on good authority that pensioners are still being owed at the time the information commissioner was reeling out his cocktail of lies. In fact,a retired director used unprintable words to describe the Governor and his aides when asked to confirm if he had been paid up to date
“So we reaffirm what Garba Shehu said about Governor Ortom not having any excuse to owe salaries and pensions, knowing that the state benefitted from Salary bailout, Excess Crude loan and Budget support facilities from the Buhari administration to all willing States”. the statement added.
BMO also noted that there is no basis for the government to blame its inability to pay salaries on insecurity.
“As recently as a few weeks ago, Ortom told the media that security challenges had been a major factor hindering him from fulfilling the State’s obligation to civil servants, as well as other things.
“But many Nigerians know that Borno State which has been the epicenter of Boko Haram insurgency had been witnessing a lot of infrastructure development, yet it has been difficult to see any legacy project in Ortom’s State.
“It is also interesting to know that his Information commissioner has said that the State’s anti-ranching law had been effective in checking what he called ‘the murderous assault of herdsmen on Benue communities’.
“So we are wondering what excuses he would provide next, especially as the Governor is known to always cite ‘Fulani herdsmen’ as a major reason for his inability to put meaningful projects in place in the State”.
The group urged Nigerians to ignore political office holders who are always quick to blame President Buhari for their non-performance in office.