Governors of the 36 states who met with President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday said the president told them that the Nigerian economy is in a bad shape.
The chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State, who briefed State House correspondents after the meeting which lasted for about 30 minutes, said after telling him of their mission, the president thanked them and said “the economy is in bad shape and that we have to come together, think and rethink on the way forward.”
The NGF met Thursday night over the lingering issue of a new minimum wage for Nigerian workers and agreed to meet with Mr Buhari to tell him their position on the matter.
A tripartite committee comprising of government, labour and the private sector, headed by a former Head Of Service, Ama Pepple, has recommended the payment of N30,000 as minimum wage.
The governors have consistently said that they will not be able to pay the proposed wage in their states unless massive retrenchment is carried out or the nation’s revenue-sharing formula is changed to favour the states and local governments.
Although Mr Yari declined to comment on what they actually discussed with Mr Buhari regarding the minimum wage, he said the president “talked to us in a manner that we have task ahead of us, we should tighten our belt and see how we can put the Nigerian economy in the right direction.”
He said the president again lamented how the past administrations under the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) allowed the nation’s infrastructure to decay despite huge petrol revenue.
”He wondered about what happened in the past; that for the 16 years of the now opposition party, the PDP in power and with oil at 2.1 million barrels per day at an average of $100, many infrastructure are in bad shape, ” he said.
Although Mr Buhari has recently said that he will not complain against the PDP again, Mr Yari said the president told them that that will be his main campaign tool.
”He is going to open a vigorous campaign and these are key issues that he is going to raise with Nigerians so that they can weigh their choice,” he said.
The Zamfara governor also said Mr Buhari expressed optimism that all of them seeking re-election or those going to the National Assembly and himself will be victorious, adding, however, that ”it is not going to be easy, it will be harder than before.”
Mr Yari said they also thanked Mr Buhari for coming to the aid of states to enable them to pay arrears of workers salaries by paying them the Paris and London clubs refunds.
“As governors, we, therefore, appreciate what Mr President has done. Without the president, with our mindset and thinking, it will be very difficult for us to govern, that’s the truth,” he said.
He also said that unlike in the past, Mr Buhari authorised the payments without reference to party differences.