The economic challenge facing the country is gradually taking its toll on the lives of Nigerians as the situation is now threatening the payment of salaries of public servants.
Governor of Imo state and Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Governors’ Forum, Chief Rochas Okorocha on Tuesday painted a picture of a desperate economic situation that may make many of the states not being able to pay workers’ salaries.
In acknowledgement of the enormous challenges facing the country, the President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari, asked Nigerians to exercise some patience and to allow the incoming administration chance to re-organize the ailing economy.
Okorocha, who met the President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari, along with other APC governors at Defence House in Abuja on Tuesday, lamented that the terrible state of the economy has put payment of April salaries of workers in jeopardy.
“One of the issues that became of concern to all of us is the state of the Nigerian economy which is really in bad shape. We have come to notify the incoming president of the challenges ahead of him.
“As it stands today, most states of the federation have not been able to pay salaries and even the Federal government has not paid April salary and that is very worrisome. By May and June, that (salaries) will be cumulative of three months,” he said.
On behalf of the state governors, Okorocha pleaded with the incoming Buhari administration to consider implementing intervention measures that can bail out federal and state governments from the critical situation to at least enable them meet their salary obligations.
“We wonder with the huge expectation from Nigerians and people who have voted us into power, we are hoping that the president-elect will do whatever is humanly possible to bring about a bailout not only in the states but the federal government at least for people to get their salaries and turn around the economy.
“We have seen the reason to work together and support Mr President and we have also called on all our brothers in other political parties to come along with us to build the Nigeria of our dream. In a nutshell, we have come to congratulate Mr President on a well deserved victory knowing that this victory, the change we’ve all been waiting for must only be dedicated to ordinary citizens of Nigeria who stood up and voted accordingly.”
On whether the governor have come up with suggestions to the president-elect, on the measures he should take to turn around the economy in the shortest possible time, Okorocha said, “What we have done so far is to inform him about it (the economic situation) and we gave useful suggestions, I think Mr President (referring to Buhari) will come up with a know how team that can arrest the ugly situation as promised.
The Imo state governor however said the issue of power sharing and ministerial appointments did not come in their meeting with Buhari, adding that all they did was to congratulate the Presiden-elect and to remind him of the daunting economic challenges ahead.
“That is to early to discuss about but as a party, we shall all work together to make sure that equitable distribution of positions and Infrastructure in Nigeria.
“We came here to pay a courtesy call on the president-elect, who will be sworn in on the 29th of this month as the president and commander in chief of the armed forces of the federal republic of Nigeria and also to familiarise ourselves, both the new governors and returning governors,” he said.
While responding to the governors concern, Buhari said the incoming APC administration will definitely find a better way to address the issues raised.
He assured the governors that there will be special intervention measures to cushion the current economic crunch and to help address the challenges in the payment of salaries.
Buhari lamented the poor state of the economy despite all the revenue Nigeria had earned from 1990 till date, urging Nigerians to be patient with the incoming government and to give it chance to re- organise the nation’s battered economy,
“The expectation is too high and I have started nervously to explain to people that Rome was not built in a day. If we can bring back the treasury to a reasonable state, the issue of insecurity and salaries not being paid will be addressed.
“For things to be corrected please give the incoming government a chance. Here, I will like to recall what happened during the Abacha regime which led to the emergence of PTF. The Abacha regime was a military regime and it thought that the only way was to increase the prices of petroleum product, but they were not taking Nigerians for a ride.
“They would have said that if Nigerians decide too riot, they have the guns and so they can have their way. They decided to tell Nigerians that they were going to increase prices of petroleum products and the money we get, we will put aside for development. That was how PTF came.
“So, this time around, under this system, for the economy to bounce back and to deal with the challenges especially with the backlog of salaries which are of immediate concern to individuals and states, I think we should look for a better way to address the issue and think of how to persuade people to give us a chance to organise the economy immediately and get something to pay salaries,” he said.
The President-elect said security remain his first agenda because if there is no security, there is no development, when he assumed office, he will make sure the people “gives us a chance to stabilize the security”.
He lamented what he described as the destruction of social infrastructures especially in education, but assured that he will do everything within his power to make sure every part of the country is safe.
“Expectations are too high and I have started nervously to explain to people that Rome was not built in a day. If we can bring back the treasury to a reasonable state, the issue of insecurity and salaries not being paid will be addressed,” he said.
The president-elect said security remained his foremost agenda because if there is insecurity, there will be no development.
Source: This Day