The Federal Government has released N760.17 billion in two tranches of the Paris Club loan refund to states for outstanding salaries and pensions but some governors are believed to have spent the cash on other things.
President Muhammadu Buhari told traditional rulers at a meeting in Abuja that he was “living with the problems of this country day-by-day, and mostly those of the ordinary people”.
“There are Nigerians that haven’t been paid for six months; there are Nigerians that have not been paid their retirement benefits for years.
“I’m appealing to the governors (that was why we voted money; we borrowed money), please make sure anybody under you, pay them because most of them depend on that salary to pay rent, school fees,’’ he said.
He stressed that the mismanagement of the national revenue over the years was responsible for the economic challenges facing the nation.
Buhari promised to pursue programmes and projects that would better the lot of Nigerians. Nigeria, he said, should use its huge population to advantage.
The President spoke also on security, saying all hands were on deck to secure the country.
On unity, he said: “We know our limitations, we have to continue to strengthen our constitution, to strengthen the resolve of our people to live together, work together.
On agriculture and this year’s planting season, Buhari said: “We are lucky this year than last year and this year the rainy season is good. If it were not good I must confide in you that I was considering which country to run to.
“But God answered the prayers of many Nigerians. The rainy season last year was good and this year, with the report I’m getting, it is good. We thank God for that; otherwise, there would have been a lot of problems in this country.”
Members of the National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria were led to the meeting by Sultan of Sokoto Sa’ad Abubakar III, who thanked God for bringing the President back in sound health. He urged the President to tighten his belt and take on the mantle of leadership.
He said with a monarch from each of the gropolitical zone assuring Buhari of their support, the President should take their comments as honest and the tonic he needed to work hard for the nation.
He said: “We will continue to preach peace and stability, justice, transparency and accountability and anti-corruption.”
One traditional ruler each from the six goe-political zones spoke at the meeting.
For the Southwest, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwunsi, thanked God for the President’s safe return and for restoring him to good health. Buhari was away in London for medical reasons. He spent 103 days.
He said: “From the Southwest, we thank God for your life and we pledge to support you from our communities because we are closer to our people. We will continue to preach to our people that we should continue to foster peace in our country. We will continue to caution our youths against hate speeches.
“We cannot leave the development of the country all to the government but we have to work hand in hand. We assure you that we will support all your initiatives.”
For the Northwest the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, said the traditional rulers identified with Buhari’s commitment to national security.
For the Southsouth, the Jaja of Opobo said: “We express our commitment to your programmes.
“We know there is tension here and there, but as traditional rulers, we don’t eat politics. The economy has to be fixed. Coming from the region that produces the mainstay of the economy, even though the country will soon diversify the economy, before we diversify let’s protect the one that we still have.
“We are pleased to work for peace and stability of the region so that we can all see the benefits of the commodity.”
For Northcentral, the Gbom Gwom Jos, Jacob Buba Gyang, also thanked God for bringing the President back to celebrate Sallah with fellow Nigerians.
He said: “The issues of health and security are not issues to play politics with, but issues in which we should put heads together so that the country can progress.
“We commend your efforts on security and agriculture.
“Few days ago, just when we thought peace had returned to the plateau up, it was truncated with the attack on Ancha village in Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau State, leading to 20 deaths.”
Gyang praised the President for ordering the security agencies to fish out those responsible for the attacks.
Speaking for the Southeast, South East Traditional Council Chairman Eberechi Dick said: “Our hearts are full of joy that you are back. You shook our hands when you came in and that shows you believe in one Nigeria. We prayed for you and you are back. We prayed for you because your agenda for Nigeria is good.
“As your children, when we cry, it is for you to ask us to stop crying, that you will fix whatever is making us cry like the bad roads.”
Speaking for the Northeast, the Lamido Adamawa, said Nigerians were happy to have the President back to the country hale and hearty.
“God brought you back to Nigeria and we are all very happy. We will continue to pray for God to strengthen you more and give you the courage to continue to do more for the country,” he said.