THE 36 state governors cried out, yesterday, over the worsening economic crises in the country and the failure of the Federal Government to release to them the bailout promised by President Muhammadu Buhari sometime ago.
The governors, who operate under the aegis of Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF, at their meeting which started Wednesday night and ended in the early hours of yesterday, complained that the comprehensive relief package designed by the Federal Government to salvage the economic crisis of the states was yet to get to them.
The governors also expressed concern over the exchange rate of the dollar to the naira as well as other foreign currencies which has affected the nation’s economy.
They have, therefore, resolved to meet the President again over the issue.
It will be recalled that President Buhari had approved a $2.1 bn intervention package to help bankrupt states pay salaries. Twelve of the 36 states of the federation were said to be owing their workers more than $550 million in salaries and allowances, with some workers not paid for seven months.
Briefing journalists after the meeting, chairman of NGF and Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, said that the Federal Government has not bailed out any state under the bailout arrangement as publicised, stressing that what the state got so far was the monthly allocation from the Federation Accounts, Allocation Committee, FAAC and the dividends from Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas, NLNG.
Governor Yari said: “This is also to inform our friends in the media that the Federal Government has not given any bailout to any of the states. What had been shared the last time was monies from NLNG and FAAC. As we have been saying, rather than look out for bailout, we have been looking for all monies that are in the coffers of the federation to be brought together for the purpose of sharing.
“The CBN governor raised some issues that taking the monies from those accounts, most especially as our reserves are going down, will affect the exchange rate and as well put pressure on the naira. So they decided to make the naira available or its equivalent so that these can be taken as loan for some of the states that are complaining about payment of salaries.
“The Federal Government has, however, not given out any bailout yet. But we have been deliberating on how best the intervention will be done quickly so that we will be able to settle the issue of salaries and other operations of government in the country.”
According to him, the resolutions reached at the meeting were:
*To discuss with Mr. President to seek lasting solutions to the worsening macroeconomic challenges confronting the nation, especially on foreign exchange stability.
*The forum pledges to work with Mr. President to ensure coherent policy actions that will create a clear policy direction for the country and stimulate domestic production.
*To collaborate with the Federal Government to ensure that the National Health Act is operational and the on percent funding for primary health care is provided for in the budget.