By George Okoh in Makurdi
Benue State House of Assembly has directed the Commissioner for Finance, Mr. David Olofu to forward all necessary documents relating to the payment of salaries and other financial transactions of the State to assist it dig into the salary challenge facing the State.
Speaker of the Assembly, Mr. Terkimbi Ikyange gave the directive yesterday after the House interacted with the Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Tony Ijoh (SAN) and Commissioner for Finance, Mr. David Olofu, during Plenary as part of its efforts to find a way out of the strike action by Benue workers.
Mr. Ikyange explained that the ongoing industrial dispute by the Organised Labour had called for a decisive action by the House in order to assist the Executive arm in unraveling the mystery behind the huge wage bill of the state.
The Speaker warned that the Assembly would not tolerate any act of frustration from any government official who would deliberately withhold any information from the House and called on the House Committee on Finance to obtain all necessary documents from the ministry without any delay.
While fielding questions from the lawmakers, the Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Ijoho said the House owes the people of the State a duty to get to the root of the salary problem through rigorous oversight and pleaded to support the full implementation of the outcome of the report of the Emergency Committee of salary payment.
On his part, Commissioner for Finance, Mr. David Olofu informed the lawmakers that the total wage bill of workers on the U-Pay platform of government covering 17, 296 workers was about N2.2Billion excluding over 8000 Pensioners, Staff of BSU, Judiciary, SUBEB and Lobi Stars. According to the Finance Commissioner, several attempts have been made by the Executive at finding solution to the over bloated wage bill and commended the Assembly for its intervention.
Earlier, the Majority Leader, Mr. Benjamin Adanyi described the inability of government to live up to its financial obligations to workers as worrisome adding that the decision of the House to step in was to help the Executive arm of government to find a lasting solution to the problem.