From: Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The governors of the 36 states of the federation under the auspices of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), have described as ‘untrue’ reports in the media that, they were tongue lashed by President Muhammadu Buhari, during their visit to him on Monday, showing his displeasure over some states’ inability to pay salaries.
The report was credited to Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adeshina.
Chairman of the Forum, Abdulaziz Yari, of Zamfara State, told State House correspondents, on Wednesday night, at the end of the NGF meeting, that President Buhari accepted all their requests but only asked them to represent their case on his return from Istanbul, Turkey where he has gone to participate in the 9th Summit of the Developing 8 (D-8) on Friday, October 20th.
Yari said the president had said since he was not the technical person, he would need the input of both the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who is the Chairman of the National Economic Council as well as the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, before he would act on their requests.
The governors had, during their visit to President Buhari, demanded for quick reconciliation and release of the outstanding balance of London-Paris Club refund of N760.175 (50 per cent) by November to enable them include it in their 2018 budget appropriation.
The sum of N516.38 billion reimbursement was made to the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory from the Paris Club debt refund in the first tranche released in February while the sum of N243.795 billions the second tranche was released in July.
Yari expressed anger that despite the fact that he briefed journalists on what transpired in their meeting on Tuesday, some reports alleged that President Buhari was unhappy with them.
He said, “We briefed the members about our meeting with Mr. President yesterday (Tuesday), which I’m surprised some of You turned it upside down. You got the full briefing from me and then some of your people went and said they got from inside, I don’t know which inside that the president is not happy with the governors. It is very unfortunate.
“We had a very fruitful meeting with Mr. President and Mr. President accepted all our requests. The only thing Mr. President said was that he, not being a technical person, we should wait for the minister of finance to return, and the chairman of the economic council to be around, so that they can give him update and support on what he is going to say to us. So, he said we should reschedule this meeting when he returns from Turkey. I think this is what I told the press yesterday but I wonder how they turned it around.
“Please we have to be serious with our job, this is Nigeria we are working for, we are working for our country, working for our people so we shouldn’t misinform the public and should be guided with the things discussed.”
Adesina had, in a statement released later, said President Buhari at the meeting with the governors, expressed concern over the growing complaints and agitations by workers in states over unpaid salaries and allowances, in spite of interventions by the Federal Government.
He had quoted President Buhari as saying that the plight of workers in the states need urgent attention 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 rents and even pay school fees for their children,” Adesina quoted the President to have said.