Buhari inaugurates National Economic Council, charges govs to pay outstanding salaries

President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday inaugurated the Nstional Economic Council led by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, where he charged state governors who owe salaries to, as a matter of urgency, explore ways of liquidating all unpaid salaries which he said have brought untold hardship to thousands of families.

He also encouraged them to restrict themselves to projects that would meet immediate needs of the people, taking account of available resources.

The council which has the 36 state governors and the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria as members is saddled with the responsibility of advising the President on economic affairs of the country.

The President said since the task of ensuring growth, job creation and equity, 'is enormous, leaders must kick-start the process by cultivating a culture of prudent management of resources at all levels of government.'

This, he said, would entail looking inwards to secure sustainable ways of increasing Internally Generated Revenue and harnessing growth potential of each state to supplement the Federation Account allocation to states.

'The states are also encouraged to embark on projects that will meet immediate needs of the people taking account of available resources.

'I therefore urge council members to consider, as a matter of urgency, exploring efficient means of gradually liquidating all unpaid salaries of members of staff, which have brought untold hardship to thousands of families.

'I would like also, as a former governor myself to remind us of the need for neighbouring states to cooperate closely on projects such as interstate and feeder roads, soil erosion, desertification and other developmental programmes.

'Our country is one and we who have the responsibility to run it must lead by example. As far as it is possible, there should be distance between politics and development programmes,” the President said.

Buhari said on its part, the Federal Government under his leadership would abide by the provisions of Sections 80 and 162 of the 1999 Constitution and ensure more accountability, transparency and integrity in the distribution of the Federation Account.

He promised Nigerians that all revenue generating agencies such as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation; Nigeria Customs Services; Federal Inland Revenue Services; Nigeria Ports Authority; Central Bank of Nigeria; Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency and Liquefied Natural Gas would comply with stipulated financial regulations and administrative instructions in their remittances into the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

On insurgency, in parts of the country, the President said the Nigerian Armed Forces had shown renewed commitment and made steady progress in the fight against Boko Haram.

He added that Nigeria, under the auspices of the Lake Chad Basin Commission and the Republic of Benin, was collaborating with the Republics of Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Benin to consolidate cross-border and international efforts at eradicating insurgency.

He said he expected the NEC to be his administration's veritable source of articulating people-centred policies and programmes capable of driving further, the expected growth and development of the country as well as providing environment required for progress.

Buhari recalled that in his inaugural speech, he stated that the primary objective of his administration was to tackle insecurity, youth unemployment, through the revival of agriculture, solid minerals mining, as well as small and medium size businesses.

He said he also highlighted pervasive corruption; fuel and power shortages; public service reforms; and the need to allow every tier of government to exercise its constitutional responsibilities.

'We are fully committed to embarking on sustainable visionary initiatives and programmes that will restructure and transform our national economy.

'We are also committed to ensuring collaboration and facilitation of the international efforts to combat threats of cross-border terrorism, sea piracy, refugees, Internally Displaced Persons, financial crimes, cyber crimes, climate change; the spread of communicable diseases; and other challenges of the 21st Century.

'I urge you all to ensure that we surmount these enormous challenges facing us as a country by working to support economic policies, which the government will soon unveil to grow our economy and finance our external promises.

'I am pleased to note that the council meetings have, over the years, been very constructive and productive, and the key outcomes as well as recommendations translated into government policies at the federal and state levels.

'This has not only facilitated national economic planning, but also lead to overall political harmony. It is also reassuring to note that steps have been taken in the past to strengthen the effectiveness of the council in its role as prime adviser on developments in the economy,” Buhari stated.

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