The inability of over two-thirds of state governments across the country to pay workers’ salaries, has been described as a national disgrace by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The president stated this yesterday when he had an interactive session with State House workers, who gathered at the forecourt of the Presidential Villa to welcome him back from his 10-day vacation in London.
He said: “27 out of the 36 states cannot pay salaries. This is a disgrace to Nigeria. It is a disgrace up till now that most of the states cannot pay salaries. What happened to all we have gotten over the years? We look up and down, left, right and centre, what have we saved? There was nothing because we developed a consumption culture that we were not supposed to develop. Most of your colleagues that have left service, I doubt if they are getting benefits. That is the situation we find ourselves in”.
Noting that the military had made remarkable improvement against insurgency in the northeast, the president decried the spate of bombings of oil installations in the Niger Delta by militants.
He said: “Unfortunately, the other unstable part of the country, the Niger Delta, with their myriads of organizations that are competing over which one can do more damage to the country and the oil companies and oil wells. For how long are we going to do this?”
In a direct warning to those still carrying out underhand dealings in the government, President Buhari advised them to desist because anyone caught in the act will have themselves to blame.
“All fraud must stop!” he said. “If they don’t believe us, they should go try and see those we caught red-handed with public funds. This will continue as long as this leadership is here.
“Whoever takes anything that does not belong to him or that he is not entitled to, it will be documented and the person will be taken to court. This is the only way I think we can bail ourselves out.
“I am asking you to dedicate yourselves more to your country because I said more than 30 years ago, that there is no other country we can call our home, but Nigeria”, he said
“We are determined to rehabilitate our country for the sake of our children and our grandchildren. I have never in my life from class monitor to this place, twice in different forms, believed in corruption.
“But we won’t touch anybody who did not touch public funds, you should behave yourself. If you don’t have houses in Abuja and the whole of Europe, you will sleep soundly. You and your family will earn respect. But if you shortchange the treasury, you will be caught and I pity your family because people will be abusing them.
“People will be calling you big thieves that how did you raise money to build all the houses in Abuja and Europe with your meagre salary. I think personal integrity is something to be encouraged. I assure you that I am absolutely dedicated to serving Nigeria. Those who behave themselves will never regret”, he added.
On his vacation, he said: “I thank you for welcoming me back from my health break. You are the judges, perhaps I look healthier than I left or I came back worse”.
Responding on behalf of the worker, Permanent Secretary (State House), Jalal Arabi: said: “We are here to welcome you back from your well-deserved vacation”.
Arabi prayed for good health, God’s guidance and wisdom for the president to continue to lead the nation.