Governors of the 36 states of the federation, yesterday, pushed for a new fiscal restructuring plan due to the present economic realities in their states, which had made it impossible for them to pay workers’ salaries. This is despite bailout funds advanced by the federal government to the states a few months ago.
governors, acting under the aegis of Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF, made the proposal at a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa in Abuja. They pushed for a new revenue allocation formula and handed over to the President a Fiscal Restructuring Plan for the Federation. As the governors were putting forward their proposal, President Buhari expressed regrets that despite the bailout funds released to the states, 24 of them could still not pay workers salaries, saying the situation was of great concern to him. The President, who shared the concern of the governors, however, said the Federal Government would quicken action on refunding monies spent on federal infrastructure by the states. He also promised to set up an inter-ministerial committee to enable him study the document. 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. He also reminded the governors that though the Federal Government had plans of rescuing the states, it also had its own financial challenges. “You all know the problems we have found ourselves in. You have to bear with us,” he said. Speaking to journalists at the end of the meeting, Chairman of the Governors Forum, Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State, said that the review of the allocation formula became imperative in view of dwindling oil prices. Reminded of a report that the governors were not saving, a situation which had caused the present economic quagmire, Yari said that it was impossible for the states to save when the Federal Government was taking 52 per cent and allocating a paltry 26 per cent to the states. He stated that the Federal Government had agreed to refund part of monies spent on infrastructure, adding that what was more important to them was the implementation of the new plan to enable states meet their fiscal challenges. He said: “The meeting is about the economy. We deliberated among our colleagues and we did say we would pass our demands to the Federal Government to look at demands per state. “You will agree with me that states are the landlords. We own the land and the people, therefore, the economy of this country lies in the states. Everything comes from the states- the oil, agricultural produce, mining and people are in the states, while the federal government is in Abuja. “Therefore, if any state has any issues and is known to Mr President, I doubt very much if he will be able to sleep with his two eyes closed. We are closer to the people and have many challenges in the states.”