President Muhammadu Buhari directed Minister of Finance Mrs. Kemi Adeosun and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Godwin Emefiele to quickly facilitate the payment of the second tranche of the London-Paris Club refund to – to ease states’ financial hardship.
Many Are not paying workers because they are short of cash.
The President said the money – about N500 billion – should be used to pay outstanding workers’ salaries and pension.
He gave the directive during a meeting with governors after the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting. The NEC is chaired by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.
A statement by Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, quoted the President as telling the governors: “I will not rest until I address those issues that affect our people. One of these basic things is the issue of salaries.
“It is most important that workers are able to feed their families, pay rent and school fees, then other things can follow.”
Although he did not mention the amount involved, The Nation’s lead story on Monday scooped that about N500billion is to be shared among the 36 states.
The Federal Government has given the conditions that the states must meet to get the cash.
Part of this is that they must give account of how the first tranche of the refund was spent.
The seven states being investiogated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over the alleged diversion of part of the money must be cleared by the anti-graft agency.
President Buhari, who went round the Council Chamber to greet the governors one after the other, praised the unity of the Forum of Governors.
He thanked them for displaying “love and respect” for him.
It was the President’s first meeting with the governors as a group since his return from a 50-day medical vacation.
According to him, he was overwhelmed by his recent experience in which states, irrespective of political differences, urged their citizens to pray in mosques and churches for his well-being. He apologised to governors for barring them from visiting him while he was in London.
“I didn’t want government to move to London. I wanted it to remain here and I am glad it did,” Buhari said.
After narrating his experience while on vacation, Buhari noted the suggestion by the governors for him to have more rest, but insisted that he would remain relentless in the pursuit of the interest of Nigerians at all times.
This, he said, is the only way to show his gratitude to the people who “had given so much to me. “I was overwhelmed by the celebration of my return all across the country,” Buhari said.
The Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Abdul-Aziz Yari, Governor of Zamfara State, assured the President, on behalf of his colleagues, that they would continue to support his policies and actions which they had adjudged as being in the nation’s best interest.
Governors Rochas Okorocha (Imo), Udom Emmanuel (Akwa-Ibom), Rauf Aregbesola (Osun) and Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia) thanked President Buhari for saving the day for states through the first tranche of the London-Paris Club refund.
They also praised the trust the President reposed in the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who they said did not disappoint when he acted as President.