Benue state deputy Governor and chairman, State of Emergency Committee on Salary Issues, Engr Benson Abounu has denied ever threatening to sack workers who fail to forward their bank statement to the committee, and explained that such a course of action has never been contemplated.

He stated that the directive was necessitated by the desire to check salary padding which is one of the main reasons for the over-bloated wage bill of the state. Benue state has the higest wage bill among the 19 northern states.

Engr Abounu who spoke to journalists at his office today stated that government’s desire to stamp out salary padding and other salary malpractices is in the best interest of the workers as doing so would bring down the huge wage bill and give the government a better chance to pay genuine workers their salaries as and when due.

The deputy governor stated that from the work of the committee so far, government has evidence that the amount of money on the payroll of workers in some cases is not what is credited into the accounts of the workers and that far less is paid into the workers accounts while the total amount on the payroll is withdrawn from the holding banks and the balance pocketed by the corrupt officials.

“The people who prepare the payroll may have a certain amount of money on the payroll but what goes into the account of the worker is far less than what is on the payroll. So, this instruction that they should bring their statement of accounts so that we can compare with the payroll is in the interest of the worker. I cannot understand why any union leader would say ‘ignore that directive’ when it is clearly in the best interest of the workers”.

“You know the transfer of the salary is done electronically.It just takes one individual to pouch a certain amount that will enter the worker’s account whereas what is on the payroll and which will be drawn from the holding bank is entirely different and government has been losing a lot of money. So, what we have done is not punitive in any way against the workers, rather it is in the interest of the workers”.

Engr Abounu regretted that due to the recent strike action, the work of the committee suffered greatly but assured that by the end of September, the committee would have finished the screening and then begun the analyses of its result.

He disclosed that the Committee is aware of plans by some unscrupulous persons to circumvent the exercise particularly at the local government level but assured that they will fail and any one caught shall be appropriately sanctioned.

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