Titus Zam speaks on increased Benue wage bill, exonerates Ortom in fraud allegation
Nigerian Concord Newspaper
A former Special Adviser to Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Hon. Zam Titus, has cleared the controversies surrounding the increased wage bill of the state.
Zam’s disclosure is contrary to media reports that the governor of the state, Mr. Samuel Ortom, deliberately and fraudulently increased the state wage bill when he assumed duties in 2015 to enrich himself.
Reacting to a report on the social media three days ago, the former adviser who was sacked by the governor for alleged financial misappropriation in 2018 said truly the wage bill under Ortom’s predecessor, Senator Gabriel Suswam, was N1.9B but, it got increased because the governor excitedly implemented the then N18,000 Minimum Wage when he got in as governor in 2015.
Zam said: ” When Ortom assumed duty as governor, he excitedly introduced the then 18 thousand Naira Minimum Wage for Primary school teachers which Suswam didn’t introduce for the reason he had already increased their salary. This ballooned the wage bill.
“Recall, Ortom came in when primary school teachers were on strike over salary owed them by the Suswam government. Again, on the eve of Suswam’s exit, the staff strength in local government areas was clandestinely increased by the outgoing local government Chairmen, a situation that gave rise to the concept of ghost workers. The local government staff strength rose to 28 thousand staff with a corresponding astronomical salary increase.”
Zam pressed further that it was the implementation of the N18,000 Minimum Wage by Governor Ortom that made the wage bill to increase from the N1.9B that was being paid under Gabriel Suswam.
He also added that there was no where Governor Ortom fraudulently increased the state wage bill to enrich himself as being reported by the Benue APC media handlers at the time the governor left the party for the PDP in 2018.