Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has said that the fraudulent earning of salaries by ghost workers and even the dead in the state civil service prompted the ongoing staff audit, which is aimed at slashing the huge monthly wage bill of N7.9 billion.
The wage bill at the state level which he inherited from his predecessor stands at N8.2 billion but he slashed it to N4.2 billion for state workers and N3.7 billion for local government councils after an initial audit, said the governor.
Ortom, who spoke to State House correspondents in Abuja at the weekend, said that apart from sifting out ghost workers, the comprehensive audit that will last three months, would also remove personnel due for retirement but are still on the government payroll.
At the end of the exercise, the state government would be in a better position to pay all salaries being owed workers at both the state and local government council levels.
“You will recall that I declared a state of emergency on payment of salaries, and I want to have the capacity to pay salaries as and when due because a worker deserves his wages. We discovered that there were so many leakages on our payroll and ghost workers and infiltration here and there.
“I think that a wage bill of over N3.2 billion at the state is too much at the state level. Then when you add pensions and gratuity you are talking about N4.2 billion, it is too much for Benue State. And at the local government, you have a wage bill of N3.7 billion. So, if you are talking about N7.9 billion for a state, it’s not decent enough.
“Ghost workers, those who were due for retirement are still in the service, those who are dead are still collecting salaries and all that.
“So, we believe that at the end of the da, we will be able to scale down to a level that we will be able to pay salaries as and when due,” he stated.