Friday, 23 February 2018

Benue Assembly Summons Finance Commissioner Over Salary Discrepancies

Disturbed by a myriad of complaints that trailed the payment of January salaries, the Benue State House of Assembly has summoned the state's finance commissioner to appear before it on Tuesday, Feb. 27.

Also summoned are some management staff of the finance ministry, the Head of Service and Remita Consultants who handled the payment of the salaries.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the resolution followed a motion moved by Mr Terhemba Chabo (APC/Gboko West), during plenary on Thursday.

Chabo expressed concern over government’s decision to engage a consultant for the payment of salaries “in the face of financial challenges facing Benue”.

He further expressed concern over the anomalies in the payments, a development he claimed had given the state government a bad name.

Chabo, who claimed that N140 million was paid to Remita Consultants for the job, opined that such expenses were “unnecessary additional burden on the lean resources of Benue”.

Seconding the motion, Mr Ianna Jato (PDP/Katsina-Ala East), described it as “apt and timely”, adding that it was unconstitutional for salaries captured in the appropriation law to be tampered with.

In his contribution, the Deputy Speaker, Mr James Okefe (APC/Okpokwu), suggested that the finance commissioner be invited to explain the arbitrary removal of some traditional rulers and local government teachers from the pay roll.

The Majority Leader, Mr Benjamin Adanyi (APC/Makurd South), who also supported the motion, wondered why an ordinary assignment usually handled by the finance ministry was contracted out.

On his part, the member representing Makurdi North, Mr Avine Agbum, alleged that a “powerful cabal” had hijacked governance in the state, and called for urgent steps to right all wrongs.

Mr Stephen Tyochir (APC/Gwer East), accused the executive arm of “punishing the electorate that voted them into power”, saying that the non-payment of salaries had caused a lot of hardship to Benue residents.

NAN reports that the lawmakers, after an intense deliberation on the motion, resolved that all complaints of omissions and under payments be addressed before any other salaries were paid to workers.

They also resolved that the appointment of Remita Consultant be put on hold to allow Bureau of Salaries and Pensions to prepare and pay workers’ salaries until all anomalies were corrected.

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