President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, directed salary-owing governors to devise means of liquidating the outstanding salaries owed to workers to relieve them of the associated hardships.
Also, President Buhari maintained that governors must initiate programmes that would boost their Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) to support their allocations from the Federation Account.
President Buhari spoke yesterday while inaugurating the members of the National Economic Council (NEC) at the Executive Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, Abuja. All the Governors were either present or represented at the inaugural meeting with the exception of Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State.
The NEC was established by the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999), as amended, Third Schedule, Part I, Section 153: Sub section (18 & 19).
It has the mandate to advise the President concerning the economic affairs of the nation and, in particular, on measures necessary for the co-ordination of the economic planning and programmes of the various governments of the federation.
NEC had remained the official economic platform for dialogue among the 36 state governors, the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria and other co-opted members, chaired by the Vice President, where issues and challenges facing the development of the country, at national and sub-national levels, are discussed with a view to develop and harmonize common strategies for addressing them.
President Buhari warned the governors to desist from politicizing projects, but ensure they embark on development programmes that would enhance the welfare of the people.
He said, “It is evident that the task of ensuring growth, job creation and equity is quite enormous. Consequently, we must kick-start this process by cultivating a culture of prudent management of resources at all levels of government.
“This will entail looking inwards to secure sustainable ways of increasing Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), and harnessing growth potentials of each state to supplement the Federation Account allocation to states.
“The states are also encouraged to embark on projects that will meet immediate needs of the people, taking into account available resources. I, therefore, urge Council members to consider, as a matter of urgency, exploring efficient means of gradually liquidating all unpaid salaries of staff, which have brought untold hardship to thousands of families.
“I would like also, as a former governor myself, to remind us the need for neighbouring states to cooperate closely on projects such as interstate and feeder roads, soil erosion, desertification and other developmental programmes.
“Our country is one and we who have the responsibility to run it lead by example. As far as is possible there should be distance between politics and development programmes.”
He said the Federal Government would ensure accountability, transparency and integrity in the distribution of the Federation Account, adding that, henceforth, all revenues from revenue generating agencies would be paid into the Federation Account.
He said, “On its part, the Federal Government will abide by the provisions of Sections 80 and 162 of the Constitution and ensure more accountability, transparency and integrity in the distribution of the Federation Account.
“All Revenue Generating Agencies such as Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Nigeria Customs Services (NCS), Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), amongst others, shall comply with stipulated Financial Regulations and Administrative Instructions in their remittances into the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
“We are fully committed to embarking on sustainable visionary initiatives and programmes that will restructure and transform our national economy.
“We are also committed to ensuring collaboration and facilitation of the international efforts to combat threats of cross-border terrorism, sea piracy, refugees, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), financial crimes, cyber crimes, climate change; the spread of communicable diseases and other challenges of the 21st century.
“I urge you all to ensure that we surmount these enormous challenges facing us as a country by working to support economic policies, which the government will soon unveil to grow our economy and finance our external promises.”
He commended the council on its activities over the past years, saying, “the Council meetings have, over the years, been very constructive and productive, and the key outcomes as well as recommendations translated into government policies at the Federal and state levels.
“This has not only facilitated national economic planning, but also led to over- all political harmony. It is also reassuring to note that steps have been taken in the past to strengthen the effectiveness of the Council in its role as prime adviser on developments in the economy.”
On Insurgency, President Buhari said the Nigerian Armed Forces had shown renewed commitment and made steady progress in the fight against Boko Haram, adding that the Goverrnors of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states had been directed to articulate assessments, costs, locations of damages made by the insurgents for submission to the President of the G7.
He said, “Nigeria, under the auspices of the Lake Chad Basin Commission and the Republic of Benin, is collaborating with the Republics of Niger, Chad, Cameroun and Benin to consolidate cross-border and international efforts at eradicating the insurgency.
“I am also happy to reiterate that following my invitation to Germany early this month by the G7 nations who have shown concern about the insurgency and promised to intervene to restore the destroyed infrastructure, schools and hospitals, amongst others, I have directed the frontline states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa to articulate realistic assessments, costs, locations on local government by local government of affected facilities for submission to the President of the G7 for further verification. In addition, the requirements of the military have been prepared by the Service Chiefs for the consideration of the G7 nations.”