By Abdulaziz Salisu
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday directed the Finance minister, Kemi Adeosun and governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Godwin Emefiele, to speedily release the second tranche of the London-Paris Club refunds to the states.
Mr Buhari gave the order at the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting at the State House, Abuja.
“I will not rest until I address those issues that affect our people. One of these basic things is the issue of salaries. It is most important that workers are able to feed their families, pay rent and school fees, then other things can follow,” he said.
President Buhari, who went round the Council Chambers to greet the governors one after another, praised the unity of the Forum of State Governors. He thanked them profusely for their display of “love and respect” to him.
The President said he was overwhelmed by his recent experience in which states, irrespective of political differences charged their citizens to pray in mosques and churches for his well-being and apologized to Governors for barring them from visits to him while he rested in London.
“I didn’t want government to move to London. I wanted it to remain here and I am glad it did,” he said.
After narrating what he went through while on that vacation, President Buhari noted the suggestion by the Governors for him to add more rest, but insisted that he would remain relentless in the pursuit of the interest of the Nigerian people at all times.
This, according to him, was the only way to show his gratitude to the people who, he said, “had given so much to me. I was overwhelmed by the celebration of my return all across the country.”
The Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Abdul-Aziz Yari of Zamfara State assured the President, on behalf of his colleagues, that they will continue to support his policies and actions which they had adjudged as being in the nation’s best interest.
The governors of Imo, Akwa-Ibom, Osun and Abia States thanked President Buhari for saving the day for states through the first tranche of the London-Paris Club refunds while calling for the immediate release of the second one.
They also commended the trust the President reposed in the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, whom they said did not disappoint when he acted as President.
Nigerian governors and Senate President Bukola Saraki had allegedly cornered a large chunk of the first tranche of the refund through ‘consultancy payments’
The slush funds, which were reportedly lodged in Governors’ Forum account, were used by the governors for by-election in Rivers.
EFCC reportedly discovered that the governors engaged phony consultants, who then illegally deducted five per cent of the funds paid to the states.
The CBN paid the consultants without informing the Accountant-General of the Federation, while the consultants forwarded a part of their payment to the individual accounts of the governors.
Some former officials of the Federal Ministry of Finance allegedly registered two companies, GSCL Limited and Biztrust Limited, through which the deal was struck.