Benue denies plans to retrench workers despite huge wage bill, recession
The Benue Government has denied insinuations that it plans to disengage workers due to high wage bill and cash crunch occasioned by economic recession in the country.
The state Commissioner of Finance, David Olofu, gave the assurance yesterday in Makurdi, the state capital, insisting that Governor Samuel Ortom was not disposed to laying off workers in the state service.
Olofu, however, said the state government would rely on the report of the screening exercise for workers being carried out by the Emergency on Salary Payment Committee to have the true figure of the state workforce.
In his words: “Retrenchment of staff and half payment of salaries are the options available to us as a government. But those options are not attractive to the governor.
“This is due to the nature of our state economy. Governor Ortom has lived all his live in Benue and he knows that every worker in the state has about four to five dependents. So, he has never considered any of those two options.”
Olofu pointed out that some neighbouring states have opted for one of those options but they have not resolved the problem and wondered how the governor would embark on such a failed venture.
“So, we ask for the understanding of our people. Let them know that when the situation improves, we will do everything to achieve and meet their needs. We need to make our agriculture more competitive, which is where we have comparative advantage,” he added.
Meanwhile, Governor Ortom has said his decision to key into the 21st Information and Communications Technology (ICT) driven initiative was to turn around the state economic fortunes.
Ortom stated this yesterday while flagging off a two-day sensitization workshop on ICT Utilisation and Sustainability for the North Central Zone in Makurdi.Represented by the state Head of Service, George Ede, he hinted that the state government has already entered into a partnership with an institute in the training of teachers; adding that a bill for the establishment of Information Technology Agency (ITA) was before the state House of Assembly for consideration.
He added that government was also partnering with other organisations and individuals for teaching of ICT in schools and the organised private sector with the hope that it would boost development in agriculture, education and other sectors of the state economy.
Speaking, the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Nigeria Communication Commission, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, said the workshop was aimed at finding ways of advancing ICT for enhanced development of the country.
Danbatta, who was represented by Kelechi Nwankwo, maintained that innovations in ICT would enhance agriculture, health, education, security, as well as information management and urged all stakeholders in the ICT to take up their responsibilities.