Ben Adam Shemang
President Muhammadu Buhari says it is a matter of great concern to him that nearly two-thirds of states of the federation are still having difficulties with salary payments, despite the bail-out funds provided to them by the Nigerian Government.
Speaking at a meeting with members of the Nigeria Governor Forum at the Presidential Villa, 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.
To ameliorate the hardship being faced by affected workers, the President said that the Nigerian 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 Government.
President Buhari also said that he would establish an inter-ministerial committee to study a Fiscal Restructuring Plan for the Federation which was presented to him by the governors.
He stressed that the committee would 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.
President Buhari urged the governors to understand that while he was ready to do all within his powers to help the states overcome their current financial challenges, the Nigerian Government also has funding problems of its own to contend with.
“You all know the problems we have found ourselves in. You have to bear with us,” President Buhari said.
The Chairman of the Governors Forum, Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State and the Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State, who chaired the committee that worked on the Fiscal Restructuring Plan, asked the 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 revenue, the implementation of the Fiscal Restructuring Plan would help them to deal with their funding problems on short, medium and long-term bases.
According to them, if the plan is adopted and implemented by the Government, states of the federation will become more financially empowered to fulfil their constitutional responsibilities.
The Governor of Edo State, Adam Oshiomhole said he had paid workers in the state to date.
He also said he was in support of the labour unions that are clamouring for increase in salaries.
Mr Oshiomhole is a former President of the Nigeria labour Congress before becoming the governor of Edo State in the Niger Delta region.
On his part, the governor of Bauchi state, Mohammed Abubakar explained that governors had to do a lot in increasing their Internally Generated Revenues.
He said that there were still many cases of ghost workers in the civil service of many states.