Makurdi – The Benue Government on Friday denied owing primary school teachers any salaries.
The Special Adviser to Governor on Political and Chieftaincy Affairs, Mr Solomon Wombo, made this known when he spoke with newsmen in Makurdi.
Primary school teachers in the state are on strike to press for the payment of the new minimum wage approved by the Federal Government.
The teachers had blamed the government for reneging on an earlier agreement with the Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT) that it would commence the payment of the new minimum wage in August.
Wombo, however, said the government commenced the payment of the new salary since August.
“Benue does not owe primary school teachers. The government started the implementation of the new minimum wage for the primary school teachers in August 2013.
“Before the August implementation of the minimum wage, the state had been paying teachers slightly above the present new minimum wage that was approved by the Federal Government.
“Their problem is not the implementation of the new minimum wage, but rather to be upgraded to meet state workers status, and it is not possible,’’ he said.
Wombo blamed the Federal Government for sealing the agreement with the NUT without consultation with other tiers of government.
“What is happening now is not because the government is insensitive, but rather our monthly allocation is not enough for our monthly requirements.
“We do not pay salaries based on the needs of the workers, but rather on the available resources within our disposal,’’ he said.
The NUT Chairman, Mr Godwin Anya, had earlier told NAN that what the government was paying was not the new minimum wage.
Anya had accused the government of preparing its own chart which showed that all eligible primary school teachers in the state would be excluded from the payment.
Reacting to Wombo’s claim, Anya said the agitations were not about increase in salary, but the implementation of the minimum wage as directed by the Federal Government.
He debunked the claims and said what the government was paying was the state salary and not minimum wage.