…says treasury virtually empty

. To meet governors today over debt burden

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday said a situation where federal and state workers were not being paid salaries was a disgrace to the nation.buhari

Speaking at a brief meeting with State House Correspondents, Buhari disclosed that his administration met a treasury that was virtually empty with debts in millions of dollars.

He attributed the inability to pay salaries to bad management “I hope we are starting and this culture (100 days in office), is bringing so much pressure with treasury virtually empty, with debts in millions of dollars, with state and even federal workers not paid their salaries. It is such a disgrace for Nigeria.

“I think Nigeria should be in a position to even pay its workers. This bad management that we find ourselves in we really need your (journalists) help to protect us from people before they match on us,” Buhari said.

Buhari said he had to pick one of the best Presidents of the Guild of Editors as his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity. “It is not by accident that I got the best of you to be the Special Adviser, one of the 15 aides I had to get clearance from the Senate.

“He is one of the best Presidents of the Guild that I can have as Special Adviser, I brought one of the best of you so that he can consistently defend me against you.

“Whether my job is a difficult one or easy is up to him, but I am here to thank you in advance for what good and ill you are going to do to me,” Buhari said.

In order to find lasting solution to the financial crisis, the President is scheduled to meet with the 36 state governors today at the Presidential Villa to discuss possible ways of sourcing for fund to settle the unpaid salaries and debt burden.

The meeting with the President followed the decision taken by the governors at the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF, meeting held in Abuja last week.

Civil servants in some of the states as well as federal agencies are yet to receive salaries for the past four months. Some states even owe as much as between six and seven months.

The governors had resolved to approach the Federal Government for intervention as most of them are finding it difficult to pay salaries of workers and meet other financial obligations Zamfara State Governor, Abdulazeez Yari after the NGF meeting, had disclosed that governors were not satisfied with the present state of the economy.

According to him, resources to meet up financial obligations are dwindling, stressing that both the state and the Federal Government workers were affected by the non-payment of salaries.

“You will agree with me that civil servants in some of the federal agencies have for the past four months not got their salaries. Why? because the Federal Government cannot do it because of the dwindling of the economy. “As we suffer in the state, the Federal Government is suffering the same thing.

Therefore, instead of us to request for the bailout, you have to make sure that the government has liquidity somewhere, but where? So we cannot ask the federal government to do the bail out for us,” Yari said.

He explained that the governors resolved that instead of asking for bailout, the Federal Government should reimburse states for federal projects executed.

“We suggested that a number of state governors have executed some projects for the Federal Government. So, instead of looking for that (bailout) let’s look for the Federal Government to settle the backlog for us so that we will be able to move forward,” he said.

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