President Muhammadu Buhari, on Monday, stated that he inherited an empty treasury while decrying the huge debts owed by Nigeria and the inability of some states and federal agencies to pay workers’ salaries.
He said this at the maiden meeting he held with the State House Press Corps at the Press Gallery of the Presidential Villa.
Buhari described the situation as a disgrace to the country and called for the support of the media in tackling economic mismanagement. “It’s such a disgrace to Nigeria.
“I think Nigeria should be in a position to at least pay its workers. This is part of the mismanagement that we found ourselves in.
“We really need your help to protect us from people before they march on us,” the President said.
Buhari recalled the frosty relationship he had with the media during his military days and said all was bygone.
“My not so easy relationship with you I think lasted over 30 years, since I locked a few of you when I was in uniform. Later, one of those, Thompson (Tunde), was generous enough to visit me to say he has pardoned me.
“For the rest of them, the other two, who didn’t pardon me I think they have their own problem; I have no problem. I have detained them; I have been detained; so, I think a balance has been struck,” he added.
The President said that he chose some of the best in the media to be his media aides noting that the appointment of his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, was the first to be approved by the Senate.
“It is not by accident that I got one of the best of you to be my Special Adviser.
“One of the positions that I had to get cleared from the Senate to get approval, he was the first in the 25 the Senators agreed that I can have as Special Advisers.”
He said he appointed Adesina to use him as shield against the media. “I got one of the best of you so that he can consistently defend me against you.
“Whether his job is difficult is up to him. Here, I thank you in advance for even for what you are going to do to me.”
The President said he would have a cordial relationship with the media throughout his tenure and would expect reciprocity from the media.
He also said the meeting with the press Corps would be regular and “consistently brief” adding that the maiden one was to welcome the newsmen to the State House.
Earlier, the Chairman of the State House Press Corps, Mr Kehinde Amodu, had thanked the President for initiating the regular meeting with the corps and pledged that the members would assist the President and his administration to succeed.
He described the President’s visit as a rare opportunity and a demonstration of the Buhari’s recognition of the role of the media in nation-building in spite of the enormous pressure they face.
Amodu called for constructive engagement with the Corps and promised that the result would be fruitful to the administration.
NAN reports that Buhari was accompanied on the visit by the State House Chief of Protocol, Alhaji Abdullahi Kazaure; the Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Mr Adesina, and the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu