President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun and the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, to act appropriately and with dispatch in releasing the second tranche of the London-Paris Club refunds to the states in order to ease their financial burdens.
The federal government had paid the first tranche of N388 billion to states in January.
The president who addressed a special meeting of the National Economic Council (NEC) yesterday also made a strong case for settlement of unpaid salaries and pension liabilities of workers in the various states.
NEC, which is the highest decision making body on the country’s economy, is made up of governors of the 36 states of the federation, ministers of Finance, National Planning and FCT. It is chaired by the vice president.
“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”, a statement by his senior special assistant on media and publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, quoted President Buhari as saying at the meeting yesterday.
The president who went round the Council Chambers to greet the governors one after the other lauded the unity of the forum of state governors, even as he thanked them profusely for their display of “love and respect” towards him.
Buhari said he was overwhelmed by his recent experience which warranted states, irrespective of political differences, to charge their citizens to pray in mosques and churches for his well-being.
Apologising to the governors for barring them from visiting him, while he was on medical vacation in London, Buhari said, “I didn’t want government to move to London. I wanted it to remain here and I am glad it did”.
After narrating what he went through while on vacation, President Buhari turned down the suggestion by the governors that he should do more of resting, insisting that he would remain relentless in the pursuit of the interest of the Nigerian people at all times.
This, according to him, was the only way to show his gratitude to the people who he said “had given so much to me”, adding that “I was overwhelmed by the celebration of my return all across the country”.
Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State assured the president, on behalf of his colleagues, that they will continue to support his policies and actions which they had adjudged as being in the nation’s best interest.
The governors of Imo, Akwa-Ibom, Osun and Abia thanked President Buhari for saving the day for states through the first tranche of the London-Paris Club refunds, while calling for the immediate release of the second one.
They also commended the trust the president reposed in the vice-president, Yemi Osinbajo, who they said did not disappoint when he acted as president.