…Tasks Them on Ideas to Reflate Economy
…Says APC Campaigns for 2019 Will Focus on 16yrs of PDP Misrule
Chairman of Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), Abdulaziz Yari has said President Muhammadu Buhari told them in confidence that the Nigerian economy was in bad shape.
He revealed that the President also advised that there will be need for Nigerians to tighten their belts.
Yari who is also the Governor of Zamfara state disclosed this to State House Correspondents after the governors of the 36 states met with Buhari for about 30 minutes in the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa.
He said the President tasked governors to begin to explore ways through which the economy can be reflated especially as the general elections draws closer.
Yari said, “after thanking us the President told us that “the economy is in bad shape and that we have to come together, think and rethink on the way forward”.
He was however silent on the new minimum wage issue, even though some of the governors had earlier met on Thursday night, where they resolved to meet with Buhari to seek lasting solution before the year ends.
Prior to Friday’s meeting with the President, some of the governors had opposed the new wage bill pegged at N30,000, by the National Tripartite Committee headed by Amal Pepple, former Minister of Housing and Urban Development.
Yari who declined to comment on what they actually discussed with Mr Buhari regarding the minimum wage, said the President ”talked to us in a manner that we have task ahead of us, that we should tighten our belt and see how we can put the Nigerian economy in the right direction”.
The NGF chairman said, “the President also lamented how the previous administrations under the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), led to the nation’s infrastructure decay despite huge petrol revenue.
He said, “He wondered about what happened in the past; that for the 16 years of the now opposition party, the PDP in power and with oil at 2.1 barrels per day at an average of $100, many infrastructure are in bad shape.”
The NGF chairman said Buhari who had recently said that he will not complain against the PDP again, told them that it will be his main campaign tool.
“He is going to open a vigorous campaign and these are key issues that he is going to raise with Nigerians so that they can weigh their choices.”
The Zamfara governor also said President Buhari expressed optimism that all of them seeking re-election including himself or those going to the National Assembly will be victorious, adding however, that ”it is not going to be easy, it will be harder than before”.
Yari noted that they also thanked the President for coming to the aid of states to enable them pay arrears of worker salaries by paying them the Paris and London clubs refunds.
He said without those payments, ”as governors, we therefore, appreciates what Mr President did. Without the President, with our mindset and thinking, it will be very difficult for us to govern, that’s the truth”.
He also said unlike in the past, Buhari authorised bailout funds without recourse to party differences.
“When Mr. President came on board, 27 states out of 36 could not pay salaries some for 13, 12, 8, 5 months respectively. Our first encounter with him, he told us that we have no business of being in power if we cannot do the basic, that is pay workers.
“So he asked that we discussed how we can support those states that cannot pay salaries so that workers will be paid. Those in the position then came up with the idea of bailing out the states so that they can pay the arrears. But paying the arrears was not enough because the performance of the economy at that time could not sustain the current salaries, that was how he paid the London Paris Club in batches until we exited last month, the payment of London Paris Club has been lingering for the past 12 years.
“So we came here today to thank Mr. President because in bailing out states he did not discriminate along party lines unlike in those days when you can only get audience with Mr. President if you have long leg before the issue will be raised with Minister of Finance. He knew that Nigerians were going to be beneficiaries of the bail-out not governors. We believe without this mindset, it would have been difficult for us to govern,” Yari said.