MIYETTI ALLAH HAS TAKEN BENUE TO COURT OVER ANTI-OPEN GRAZING LAW - ORTOM - Snazzy.com.ng

8/08/2017

MIYETTI ALLAH HAS TAKEN BENUE TO COURT OVER ANTI-OPEN GRAZING LAW - ORTOM

---Says He's Still Studying Labour's Ultimatum on Salaries

By Jimin Geoffrey
Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom has disclosed that the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association in the country has taken the state to court in protest against the planned implementation of the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law recently enacted by State Government as a panacea to herders/ farmers clashes.

Governor Ortom, who disclosed this yesterday in an interview with correspondents at the Benue Peoples House, Makurdi, said as a law abiding citizen, he was not perturbed by the decision of the cattle breeders to seek to frustrate his peace efforts through legal means, positing that the state would slog it out with the group in court.

The Governor said he was waiting for the courts to tell him that it was unlawful for him to initiate a bill for the law and send to the State House of Assembly, stressing that he believes in the rule of law and would never resort to violence in addressing security challenges.

He said the enactment of the law was part of his constitutional responsibility to protect lives and property including those of herdsmen, saying the bill seeks the establishment of ranches not just for cattle but for all livestock including pigs, goats and sheep.

Speaking on the ultimatum issued by labour unions calling on him to clear the backlog of salaries owed civil servants or risk industrial action, Governor Ortom said he was still studying the letter and would meet with the organised labour to dialogue on the matter.

According to him, labour had shown tremendous understanding with his administration in the past two years and that workers deserve their wages.

The Governor however noted that the accumulated arrears of salaries, pensions and gratuities were due to the high wage bill he inherited from his predecessor, which was compounded by the shortfall in federal allocation to states, occasioned by dwindling oil prices.

He reiterated that his administration inherited N69b arrears of salaries and a monthly wage bill of about N8.2 billion which increased to N8.5b with the implementation of the new minimum wage for primary school teachers.

Governor Ortom said owing to the series of screening exercises and prudent management of resources as well as plugging of leakage his administration, the state's wage bill has been reduced to N7.8 billion even with overheads and pensions. He further said about N40 billion was needed to clear the backlog of salaries, pensions and gratuities.

According to the Governor, what comes from the federation as allocation to the state in addition to the Internally Generated
Revenue, IGR, was usually in the threshold of five to six billion naira with a deficit of over two billion naira, which is grossly inadequate to pay salaries of workers across board.

He further posited that the intervention from the federal government through bailout and Paris Club refunds had only succeeded in reducing the salary arrears significantly.


On labour's suggestion for his administration to borrow money to offset arrears of salaries, Governor Ortom said there is a limit to borrowing, stressing that the state could not borrow more than what it can accommodate.

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