Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has disclosed that Benue State currently has around N40 billion gratuities and allowances liability. The Governor said the amount was N70 billion in 2015 when he assumed office and his administration has managed to reduce it to less than N40b. The Governor said that his administration has always prioritized the settling of pensioners’ gratuities and allowances since he assumed office.
The governor stated this in a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, while reacting to a statement from a group called ‘Benue Renaissance Network (BRN)’ who had vowed to protest to the Presidency, National Assembly and the Governors’ Forum on the plight of pensioners in the state and the need to intervene.
Governor Ortom said he recognized the right of individuals and groups to exercise their freedom of speech but noted that it was necessary that the said group understand certain issues before jumping into conclusion.
According to the statement,
“We read the statement credited to a nondescript group which calls itself ‘Benue Renaissance Network (BRN)’ where it said it would impress on the Presidency, National Assembly and the Governors’ Forum to intervene in the issue of pensions in Benue State.
“The Ortom administration has domesticated the PenCom law in the state which is a sure way of ending the problem of accumulated pensions and gratuity. The group must also appreciate the fact that the Government is constrained by the inadequacy of funds to be able to clear the outstanding pensions and gratuity.
“It was in his earnest bid to address the pensions matter that Governor Ortom wrote to the Federal Government requesting for assistance to enable him tackle the challenge. The Governor’s request is currently being processed by the Central Bank as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“The Federal Government is fully aware that the issue of pensions in Benue State is not a deliberate attempt to deny the retirees of their entitlements. The Government at the centre knows that Governor Ortom is genuinely concerned and worried about the matter and has requested for the intervention of Mr President to enable him clear the outstanding pensions and gratuity.
“We however wish to correct the wrong impression created by the group in its statement that pensioners who staged a protest at Benue Peoples House last year were beaten by thugs. No one manhandled any of the pensioners”.