By; Sunday Ode, Abuja.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday directed the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, 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 hardships.
The President, who addressed the meeting of the National Economic Council made up of State Governors and chaired by the Vice-President in the State House, Abuja, however, made a strong case for settlement of unpaid salaries and pension liabilities of their workers.
“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 the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu quoted Buhari as saying.
The governors were gathered at the Villa for the monthly meeting of the National Economic Council of which they are an integral part.
It was the first time President Buhari would meet with the governors as a body since his return from his London medical trip last Friday.
The President had on his return urged Nigerians to be more engaged in praying for his recovery rather than pay visits to him.
Journalists were, however, not allowed to cover the rest of the proceedings as they were ordered out of the venue as soon as the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) Governor Abdulazeez Yari began his address.
The statement by Shehu noted that President Buhari, who went round the Council Chambers to greet the governors one after another, praised the unity of the Forum of State Governors. He thanked them profusely for their display of “love and respect” to him.
The President said he was overwhelmed by his recent experience in which states, irrespective of political differences charged their citizens to pray in mosques and churches for his well-being and apologized to Governors for barring them from visits to him while he rested in London, according to the statement.
“I didn’t want government to move to London. I wanted it to remain here and I am glad it did,” Buhari was quoted to have said.
The statement said after narrating what he went through while on that vacation, President Buhari noted the suggestion by the Governors for him to add more rest, but insisted 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. I was overwhelmed by the celebration of my return all across the country.”
The Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Abdul-Aziz 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 States 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, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, whom they said did not disappoint when he acted as President, Shehu noted in the statement.