President Muhammadu Buhari said Thursday in Abuja that it was a matter of great concern to him that nearly two-thirds of states of the federation are still having difficulties with salary payments despite the bail-out funds provided to them by the federal government.
Speaking at a meeting with members of the Nigeria Governors Forum at the Presidential Villa, Mr. Buhari said he was very disturbed by the hardship which state government workers across the country and their families were facing due to the non-payment of salaries.
To ameliorate the hardship being faced by affected workers, the president said the federal government would strive to make more funds available to the states by expediting action on refunds due to them for the maintenance of federal roads and other expenses incurred on behalf of the federal government.
Mr. Buhari also said he would establish an inter-ministerial committee to study a Fiscal Restructuring Plan for the federation which was presented to him by the governors.
The president said the committee would 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.
Mr. Buhari therefore urged the governors to understand that while he was ready to do all within his powers to help the states overcome their current financial challenges, the federal government also has funding problems of its own to contend with.
“You all know the problems we have found ourselves in. You have to bear with us,” he told the governors.
Also speaking, Governors Abdulaziz Yari and Nasir El-Rufai of Zamfara and Kaduna States respectively, who chaired the committee that worked on the Fiscal Restructuring Plan, asked the federal government to do more to help the states financially.
The governors told the president that while they had resolved to take other measures to boost their internally-generated revenue, the implementation of the Fiscal Restructuring Plan would help them to deal with their funding problems on short, medium and long-term bases.
They said if the plan was adopted and implemented by the federal government, states of the federation would become more financially empowered to fulfil their constitutional responsibilities.