President Muhammadu Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, has said the President gave conditions for the payment of the outstanding Paris Club refund to states.
Shehu, in a statement on Monday, said Buhari stated that he was not averse to the payment as far as the treasury could afford it and the economy would not be destabilised.
Shehu said the President had directed his key officials to sit down with representatives of Nigeria Governors’ Forum to determine how much of their unpaid debts could be released to them before Christmas.
He said, “The President gave the directive while responding to pleas by the governors who met him at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, asking that he gives a commitment to pay all outstanding debts owed them from London and Paris Club deductions to ease their financial hardships.”
He said the governors informed the President that they wanted his commitment on the repayment so that they could factor the money into their 2018 budgets.
The statement quoted Buhari as saying, “I will not be saying much because the responsible ministers are here: Finance, Budget and Planning and the Central Bank of Nigeria. I request you to appoint your own team to sit with them.
“This should be done, not only for next year’s budget, but for this Christmas. The Minister of Finance, Budget and Planning and the Central Bank should sit with you to see how much can be released before Christmas.
“For Nigerians without sources other than their salaries, I am concerned that workers should be able to pay rent, school fees, buy drugs and take care of their families. I am so much concerned that people should have something to eat at Christmas.”
The statement added that the Chairman of the Governors’ Forum, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari, four other governors – El-Rufai (Kaduna), Ra’uf Aregbosola (Osun), Udom Emmanuel (Akwa Ibom State) and Okorocha took turns to commend Buhari for caring for states and workers’ welfare.