Makurdi, Oct. 18, 2023: The Benue Government has discovered over 600 banks accounts operated by the immediate past administration.
The State Commissioner for Finance and Budget Planning, Mr Michael Oglegba, said this was contrary to the 25 bank accounts the administration was shown on assumption of office.
The Commissioner said this on Tuesday when members of the Correspondents Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) paid him a courtesy visit in Makurdi.
Oglegba said that the government uncovered the extra accounts from the information gotten through the Nigerian Inter Bank System.
Oglegba said Gov. Hyacinth Alia had frozen all government accounts after taking over to enable the government understand what was on ground.
“When we came in, we asked for the accounts and bank statements and we were presented with about 25 bank accounts.
“A causal look at the Nigerian Inter Bank System showed that Benue Government has more than 600 accounts.
“So the Governor needed to freeze those accounts to know exactly what was happening,” he added.
Oglegba Gov. Alia has been able to reduce the state wage bill following ongoing audit of the system, adding that the process was still ongoing and actual figures would be announced when completed.
On the state’s debt profile, he said both the state and local governments have a cumulative debt of over N359 billion.
“The debts owed by the State itself was in excess of N200 billion. This includes local and foreign debts.
“However, the LGAs also have their own debts, unpaid salaries, pensions, gratuities and local contractors that made up the other N150 billion.
“The Alia administration has no reason to lie about the State debts.
“We will be doing ourselves a great disservice if we say we own monies that we do not own. When we need loans for example who will give us?”
The commissioner further disclosed that the handing over notes from the immediate past administration indicated that there were 19,000 pupils and 16,000 teacher, but which do not exist physically.
He said that by the figure presented by the previous administration, it meant that the state has one pupil to one teacher ratio, which was false.
Oglegba said the Alia administration has done so much within its five months in office without borrowing to meet its financial obligations.
He said the has embarked on the construction of 16 township roads in Makurdi, installation of street lights, rehabilitation and remodeling of the state Assembly complex, and renovation of the state Secretariat, among others.
He added that the government had also paid five months salaries in the last four months while all contractors handling government projects have been paid without collecting any loan.
The commissioner urged members of the correspondents chapel to always be objective and ensure balance in their news reports, adding that the government would work closely with them.
Earlier, Chairman of the chapel, Mr Emmanuel Antswen said they were ready to partner with the government to ensure that citizens were made abreast of government policies and programmes at all times.