Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom, today assured that not a dime from the N10 billion borrowed by the government has been misappropriated, as it has been used to pay workers salaries.
Ortom gave the explanation in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Makurdi, to debunk allegations by the opposition that he misappropriated the N10 billion loan.
The governor said when he applied to the State Assembly for approval to borrow the money, he gave details of what it was intended for.“I said it was going to be used to pay two months salaries. On the average, we expend N3.7 billion on the payment of monthly salaries.”The breakdown is as follows: wage bill is about N2.8 billion while the overhead per month across board runs to about N700 million.“ So if you take that for two months you will be spending about N7.4 billion or close to N7.5 billion on salaries alone thereby leaving a balance of about N2.5 billion out of the N10billion we borrowed.“Part of what I applied for the loan was to enable the executive and the house of assembly to take off. We needed to buy cars for 13 commissioners, 18 advisers, and assembly members including payment of allowances,” Ortom explained.He disclosed that more than N3 billion had already been spent on the take off of the government including the legislature.The governor, who appealed for patience, said “ no kobo from that money has been misappropriated“.He also assured that the N2.7 billion the state received from the LNG dividend was still intact, and part of it would be used to pay July salaries.“Benue state got N5billion from the LNG account but what actually came to the state was N2.7 billion because N2.3 billion went to the local government councils.“That money is still intact in our account. We are now waiting for July allocation and if nothing adds, we are expecting about N1.7 billion, which cannot pay our workers salaries, so we have to take from the LNG account to pay July salaries.“He said his administration was committed to transparency, accountability and the rule of law, and appealed to the people to offer advises and constructive criticisms that would ginger development.
Ortom pledged to commit resources to upgrade facilities at the state school of Nursing and Midwifery to facilitate its accreditation for it to resume normal academic programmes.He said the school was crucial to his administration and would invest money for its upgrade.
The governor, who lamented the poor state of facilities in government offices across the state, said his administration had a robust plan to upgrade all decaying infrastructure.
Ortom accused political detractors of sponsoring falsehood against the government over the loan.