Benue State governor Samuel Ortom has confirmed receipt of the bailout fund for the state, but assured that due to perceived inflated figures, he has set up a committee to be headed by the state deputy governor to verify the authenticity of the claims before disbursements would commence.
Ortom also revealed that the bailout for the local governments, meant for the payment of outstanding arrears and salaries of local government staff and teachers across the state , to the tune of N15billion , was received last Friday and that payment will equally commence soon as due process is completed.
In an interview with newsmen in Abuja yesterday, Ortom explained that due process was followed in the application of the loan, stressing that his government will ensure that the money meant for the bailout will be utilised judiciously and for the purpose for which it was secured.
He said: “We had to undergo some due process, there was a requirement that Benue State Executive Council will pass a resolution to accept the bailout and the second one was that the House of Assembly too will have to pass a resolution.
“Now, these processes were delayed, but finally we were able to come to agreement. We then applied, and it might interest you to know that, we have gotten the bail out. The money for the local governments was received last Friday to the tune of N15.5billion to clear the arrears of teachers and local government staff.
“Today, the 14th of October, I have just received the alert of the bailout for the state. I have set up a committee to verify the authenticity of the various payment vouchers. The salary wage bill, because we suspect and, smell a rat that there are inflations. Therefore, we have set up a committee, headed by the deputy governor, there are other unions as members of the committee, including the state chapter of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), we have brought in the Trade Union Congress (TUC), there is the state chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the state chapters of the Colleges of Education and that of Polytechnics and this is because we want a transparent process”.
Ortom further explained that the setting up of the committee that would verify authenticity of the claims and vouchers before payment will commence, was to insure accountability and transparency, which according to him, is key to his administration.
He pointed out that inclusion of the various union groups in the state is equally part of the accountability, which he promised the people of the state, “We want to be accountable because we have really nothing to hide. I must assure you that these monies will be strictly used for the purpose for which it was secured. It is for salary arrears and it will be used for salary arrears and nothing less”, the governor declared.