Contrary to reports, state governors said in Abuja on Wednesday that President Muhammadu Buhari did not rebuke them on the handling of the money they received from the Paris Club loan refunds.
The governors’ rebuttal is contained in a statement issued on their behalf by the secretariat of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum.
It had been reported that the Nigeria Labour Congress on Tuesday reacted to a statement credited to President Buhari while meeting with the nation’s traditional rulers.
During the meeting with the traditional rulers, the President was said to have decried the handling of the Paris Club loan refunds by the governors. NLC had cashed in on the said President’s statement to condemn the governors.
But the governors said in the statement, “For the avoidance of doubt, there is nowhere in President Buhari’s statement where he mentioned Paris Club and it is unfair for anyone to attempt to bring the state governors and the Presidency on collision course.
“Moreover, there is, so far, no investigation known to any governor on the Paris Club loan refunds regarding non-payment of salaries, let alone any indictment.
“Furthermore, the Paris Club loan refund was not borrowed money but an over-deduction from states’ repayments of a loan which the Federal Government is repaying to states that were erroneously debited.”
The statement added, “It is also not just saddening but painful that the NLC, a very respectable union, is being misinformed into casting aspersions on the person of the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Alhaji Abdulaziz Abubakar, who has respectfully fulfilled all promises he made to the Zamfara workers.
“For example, the reference to the strike currently going on in Zamfara State by the workforce is not only misplaced but uncalled for because it has nothing to do with the non-payment or non-judicious disbursement of the Paris Club loan refunds.
“It is important to state, without fear of contradiction, that the Zamfara State Government is up-to-date on the payment of workers’ salaries.”
The NGF explained that what the state workers were protesting, without prejudice to the Paris Club loan refunds, was the increment in wages to primary schoolteachers, local government workers and the increment of pensioners’ emoluments.
It said that both demands, according to the Zamfara State Government were unrealistic in the current state of affairs.
This, it said, had been stressed by the Zamfara State Government that it was not in a position to meet those demands because of the dire state of not just Zamfara State but the nation’s economy in general.
“It is important to repeat here that the current euphoria over the efforts of the nation to free itself from recession would not have been achieved without the full cooperation of the states, where fiscal discipline and other reforms are being entrenched and institutionalised,” the statement added.