Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has President Muhammadu Buhari did not direct state governors to pay salary arrears before Christmas.
Buhari had on November 27 said state governors should ensure payment of salaries backlog from the balance of the outstanding Paris Club refund which would soon be paid to them â€” to enable workers â€œsmile to banksâ€ during the festive period.
But Ortom in an interview with Vanguard, said Buhari only asked them to use 50 per cent of the refund to pay salaries, not necessarily to clear all arrears.
â€œThe fact is that on that matter, the president is being misquoted. Mr. President didnâ€™t say we should clear arrears of salaries,â€ Ortom said.
â€œHe said the last tranche of the 50 per cent, please get it very well, the last tranche of the Paris Club refunds that was approved by him should be released to states so that civil servants too can enjoy their Christmas like every other person.
â€œWe already have a template of what we agreed with the president and that is that when this money comes that at least a minimum of 50 per cent of the amount should be used for the payment of salaries.
â€œThat was the agreement we had. But here in Benue State each time we get it we use more than that.
â€œThe last time we used more than 80 percent for the payment of salaries arrears, even the one that we are about to receive, we will use more than 70 per cent to pay arrears. That is what we intend to do.â€
Ortom, according to The Cable, further said Buhari remains the best person to lead the country â€œat this our very trying timeâ€, adding that he sees no alternative to him ahead of the 2019 presidential election.
â€œYou may have an alternative, but for me, and as far as I am concerned I have not seen an alternative to President Buhari at this our very trying time,â€ he said.
â€œIt is interesting to note that despite all the challenges he met on ground on assumption of office, a period when the country went into a deep recession, he took far reaching decisions that got us out of the recession; that is no mean achievement.
â€œI believe that we will get there someday as a nation, challenges may abound but I believe that we will overcome them.
â€œSo I still remain committed to my belief that President Buhari remains the leader that we need at this particular time of our history and development as a nation.
â€œHe is a selfless leader who has instilled discipline in our people. That is the kind of person we need at this particular time of our development and history as a nation.â€