Pres. Buhari raises alarm over inability of states to pay salaries after bail-out

By The Citizen

President Muhammadu Buhari has raised alarm over the inability of about 24 states of the federation to pay their workers' salaries despite the bail-out funds provided to them by the Federal Government.

The president, who was speaking at a meeting with members of the Nigeria Governors' Forum at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Thursday, said it was a matter of great concern to him that these states were having difficulties with salary payments.

President Buhari said that he was very disturbed by the hardship which state government workers across the country and their families were facing due to the non-payment of salaries.

The president pledged that the Federal Government would strive to make more funds available to the states by expediting action on refunds due to them for the maintenance of federal roads and other expenses incurred on behalf of the Federal Government.

According to him, this is to ameliorate the hardship being faced by the affected workers in the states.

He stated that Federal Government would establish an inter-ministerial committee to study a Fiscal Restructuring Plan for the Federation which was presented to him by the governors.

According to the president, the committee will review the plan to improve the finances of state governments and make recommendations on how proposals in the plan should be dealt with by the Presidency, the Federal Executive Council and the National Assembly through legislation.

While urging the governors to understand that he was ready to do all within his powers to help the states overcome their current financial challenges, the president reminded them that the Federal Government also had funding problems to contend with.

“You all know the problems we have found ourselves in. You have to bear with us,'' he told the governors.

The Chairman of the Governors' Forum, Gov. Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara and the Gov. Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State, who chaired the committee that worked on the Fiscal Restructuring Plan, asked the Federal Government to do more to help the states financially.

The governors told the President that while they had resolved to take other measures to boost their internally-generated revenues, the implementation of the Fiscal Restructuring Plan would help them to deal with their funding problems on short, medium and long-term bases.

They said that if the plan was adopted and implemented by the Federal Government, states of the federation would become more financially empowered to fulfil their constitutional responsibilities.

Yari, who later spoke to State House correspondents on the outcome of the meeting, said the states demanded for 18 months moratorium on the bail-funds provided some states by the Federal Government. (NAN)