Since taking office as governor of Benue State in 2015, Governor Samuel Ortom has stated that his administration has spent about N700 million per month on pension payments.
The governor revealed the figures while speaking with journalists in Makurdi, the state capital, on Saturday. He said that in the last six years, state and local government pensioners have received N400 million and N300 million in monthly payments.
Governor Ortom went on to say that while the release of the monies has an impact on the payment of overheads and other logistics in some government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, it must be maintained in order to alleviate the predicament of the state’s elderly citizens.
According to him, the release of N700 million monthly is as a result of an agreement between government and Pension union leaders in the state, stressing that it was unfortunate for pensioners to stage protest despite his efforts.
The governor alleged that his administration inherited over N70b arrears of pensions and gratuities of retirees in both the state and local government level.
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Governor Ortom stated that the relentless efforts of his administration has, however, reduced the amount to less than N35b so far.
The governor said already, over N1.5b had been saved in the PENCOM account by the Benue State government, stressing that when the amount reaches N3b threshold, funds would be accessed from PENCOM to clear arrears of Pensions and gratuities of retirees.
According to him, the domestication of the PENCOM law by his administration was the best approach to ensure a lasting solution to payment of pensions and gratuities of retirees in the state.
On the preparations of the PDP ahead of its national convention slated to hold at the end of this month, the Governor said the National Zoning Committee of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP had agreed that party positions that were in the South be swapped to the North and vice versa.
He stated that sharing of the party positions is being done, adding that the intention of stakeholders of the PDP is to ensure consensus candidates emerge for all the positions across the country.