President Muhammadu Buhari is concerned about the growing agitation in states over unpaid salaries and allowances, in spite of interventions by the Federal Government.
The President spoke when he received a group of governors led by Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) Chairman Abdul’Aziz Yari at the State House in Abuja.
Governors on the delegation are Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom, Southsouth); Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara, Northcentral); Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo, Southwest); Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi, Northwest); Mohammed Abubakar (Bauchi Northeast) and Ebonyi Deputy Governor Kelechi Igwe, who stood in for the Southeast.
The Federal Government on May 4 released details of the N243.795 billion second tranche of the Paris Club refund to states.
Buhari said the plight of workers in the states needed attention urgently as many could barely survive.
“How can anyone go to bed and sleep soundly when workers have not been paid their salaries for months.
“I actually wonder how the workers feed their families, pay their rent and even pay school fees for their children,” he said.
The President told the governors that two of the three-pronged focus of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) – to secure the country and fight corruption – had received some commendable reviews by the people.
He noted that the challenge in payment of salaries in states had taken a toll on the people.
President Buhari said the Federal Government and state executives would need to work closely to ameliorate the situation of workers.
He added: “God has been merciful in hearing the prayers of his servants, so the rainy season has been good; you can ask the Kebbi State governor on this, and our enormous food importation bill has gone down.”
The President said he had instructed all government agencies to comply with the Treasury Single Account (TSA) to ensure more transparency and prudence in accounting for revenue and sharing of entitlements with states.
A breakdown of the second tranche payment is as follows: Abia got N5.72 billion; Adamawa, N6.11 billion; Akwa Ibom, N10 billion; Anambra, N6.12 billion; Bauchi, N6.88 billion; Bayelsa, N10 billion; Benue, N6.85 billion; and Borno N7.34 billion.
Cross River got N6.08 billion, Delta, N10 billion; Ebonyi, N4.51 billion; Edo, N6.09 billion; Ekiti, N4.77 billion; Enugu, N5.36 billion; Gombe, N4.47 billion; Imo, N7 billion; Jigawa, N7.11 billion; and Kaduna, N7.72 billion.
Kano got N10 billion, Katsina, N8.2 billion; Kebbi, N5.98 billion; Kogi, N6.03 billion; Kwara, N5.12 billion; Lagos, N8.37 billion; Nasarawa, N4.55 billion; Niger, N7.2 billion; and Ogun, N5.7 billion.
The others are Ondo, N7 billion; Osun, N6.3 billion; Oyo, N7.9 billion; Plateau, N5.64 billion; Rivers, N10 billion; Sokoto, N6.44 billion; Taraba, N5.61 billion; Yobe, N5.41 billion; Zamfara, N5.44 billion; and the Federal Capital Territory, N684 million.
The refund is in respect of over-deductions on Paris Club, London Club Loans and Multilateral debts between 1995 and 2002.
Chairman of the Forum and Zamfara State Governor Abdulaziz Yari said the various interventions by the Federal Government, which included the bailouts, were judiciously utilised by the states.
He said the governors inherited backlog of unpaid salaries and huge debts.
“We are concerned with the situation in our states, and we are trying our best to manage the resources,” he said.
Yari noted that the bailout funds, and part of the fallout from the London-Paris Club that had been received by the states were properly expended to alleviate the plight of workers, but more had to be done.
The NGF chairman praised the President’s efforts in improving the economy.
He promised that the states would continue working with the Federal Government to improve the livelihood of workers and all Nigerians.
Yari, however, insisted on the Federal Government paying the balance of the refund to states.
He said: “We are here on behalf of the 36 states governors and this is a result of the collective decision to see the President after the National Economic Council meeting last month.
“We are here to thank Mr President for his concerns about the state economy and … giving us several support ranging from bailout, restructuring our debt, London- Paris Club exit payment. We also told him that we think that it was because of the decision he has taken, in which many Nigerians are accusing him, this is the reason why we got out of recession. You know that the 200 million citizens residing in Nigeria are residing in respective states.
“This support is going down to them, when you are taking the indices from the grassroots. We thanked the President for that and at the same time, as a father, we said to him ‘Mr President you remember that in 2016, we presented to you the numbers of London and Paris exit funds which we agreed, and you directed we be paid 50% and 50% open reconciliation.
‘Reconciliation is on since 2016. We are hoping that both DMO, Ministry of Finance, AGF and our consultants are concluding this reconciliation by November.
“Therefore, we want to crave your indulgence so that we can factor the numbers in our 2018 budget so that we can use it for projects and other recurrent spending, according to the specification given by our respective House of Assembly and that’s why we are here.
“Mr President was prompt being that he has a representative in the National Economic Council, that is the Vice President and Minister of Finance is away. We are going to work with the numbers when he returns from his trip. We are going to follow up this meeting with him so that we can conclude on what is going to be done next,” Yari said.