Nigeria Governors’ Forum is worried that more states may not be able to pay workers’ salaries if the revenue of the country continues to be on the decline, its Chairman, Governor Abdul’aziz Yari of Zamfara, has said.
Mr. Yari made the statement while briefing journalists on the resolutions of the forum at its meeting in Abuja late on Wednesday.
He said the forum discussed the economy and resolved to look for means to enhance states internally generated revenues as well to cut overhead cost, especially the salaries of political office holders.
The governor said the forum also resolved to diversify the country’s economy from petroleum to agriculture and mining.
“The situation is no longer the same when we are used to pay N18, 000 minimum wage when oil was 126 dollars; now oil price is 41 dollars.
“We are coming together in a roundtable with President Muhammadu Buhari and his team of ministers, technocrats, economic experts to see how we can tackle our situation,’’ he said
Mr. Yari said that the governors had also resolved to hold a roundtable with all stakeholders to articulate a robust strategy to tackle the deplorable economic situation in the country.
In an interview with journalists, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta state said the economic situation was worrisome as more states would reach a stage where they would not be able to pay salaries.
“I believe that is the same situation with the Federal Government,’’ Mr. Okowa said.
He said there was a need to look into the salaries of political office holders and other salaries.
“It is not a situation of being able to run government now. Most states are not able to pay salaries not to talk of capital projects.
“If we cannot fund capital development, then the rest of Nigerians are just shut out of government.
“Those of us in government, both politicians and civil servants are possibly not more than five per cent of the entire population of Nigerian.
“What will happen to the other 95 per cent? What happens to infrastructure? Can we talk about industry without infrastructure?’’ Mr. Okowa asked.
Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State said there was no way the country could continue with a situation where expenditure was more than income.
He said very soon many states would be technically declared bankrupt and added that there might be need for another bailout fund for states as they were running on deficit every month.
“We are faced with a situation where we either have to reduce cost through salary reduction or downsize.
“All these we don’t want to do but prefer to have a roundtable with the president, ministers, economists to look for means of getting out of this problem,’’ Mr. Ajimobi said.
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