Benue State governor, Reverend Father Hyacinth Alia has said that his administration is working out a sustainable plan to revisit and clear off a debt of N359billion, being arrears of pensions, gratuities, and salaries owed workers inherited in the State.
Alia who spoke to State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa after a closed door meeting with President Bola Tinubu said, a deliberate effort is being made to raise Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), much of which will be directed at paying off the accumulated debt to empower workers who as laborers, deserve their wages.
“You will be shocked to hear that some in the local government, people were owed for up to five years. The least, we recorded are people who were owed up to four months. This is why the debts has come up to N359billion on my head and on the heads of Benue State,” the governor told reporters.
According to Alia, “since we came in, I know that Benue State on record has the debts of all over N359 billion naira being pensions and gratuities, salaries and arrears as well as the debts ranging from the poor and then the domestics.
“What we’re trying to do is to see how we can renegotiate these and then to get back on a better perspective and then to forge ahead with the development of this state.”
Governor Alia explained that his administration was determined going forward, to pay the state workers’ their salaries on the 25th of every month in fulfilment of his pledge since assumption of office.
“For now, we have established the continued payment of salaries each month. If you are a staff of the States or the local government in Benue state, I would have only told you keep watch on your light on the 25th of every month. Your alert must tell you that you have been paid and that has come to stay and that is what we’ve been experiencing in the last four months and we’re serious at it. A laborer deserves his wages. So, you work, you earn your living.
“So, the state is not going to owe anything to anyone. Again, to those who are retiring since this 2023, we’ve already made it a point of duty that once you retire it must not take up to four months before you collect your gratuities and your pension. By doing this, gradually we’re going to revisit the backlog of arrears that exists. In fact we’ve started work on that already.
“So, we’re trying to raise the IGR. So, once it is raised any month, then we have something in there, it goes straight to the arears of pensioners, and then even of salaries,” governor Alia added.