Buhari Brands State Govs. As Thieves For Taking Local Government Allocations

President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari has accused state governors of stealing from money allocated to local governments, thereby limiting development at the grassroots.

He laid the blame on Thursday when he hosted members of the Senior Executive Course 44 (2022) of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The president, who said he was reliving a personal experience, condemned the unfair treatment by state chief executives against the administration at the local government level. He said the governors’ attitude portrayed corrupt practices perpetrated in dispensing resources meant for local councils’ administrations.

He wondered why the states would collect money on behalf of council areas in their states only to remit just half to the council chairman, who in turn pilfer the public resources.

Buhari then blamed the situation on lack of integrity and character on the part of those holding such offices, which he said indicated the level of corruption in the country.

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He lamented: “Speaking from personal experience, a chief executive of a state, a qualified lawyer, trained, the treatment of local governments, what they did, this is my personal experience, if the monies from the federal government to state governments is 100 million (naira), let’s put it at 100 million. 50 million will be sent to the chairman with a letter that he will sign that he received N100 million.

“The governor would pocket the balance and share it with whoever he wanted to and then the chairman of the local government would see how much he must pay in salaries. To hell goes development. Monies for the salaries would be given and the balance would be put in his pocket. This is what is happening.

“This is Nigeria. It’s a terrible thing. You cannot say the person who was doing these was not educated. He was a qualified lawyer; he was experienced, yet he participated in this type of corruption.

“So, it’s a matter of conscience, whichever level we find ourselves. As a leader, you sit here, with all the sacrifices the country is making by putting you through institutions and getting you ready to lead, the fundamental thing is personal integrity. May God help us.”

Meanwhile, Buhari assured that the recommendations in the presentation by the SEC 44 would be studied by the government with a view to implementing them. He noted that his administration had done well to build trust between the government and the people, stating that the report would assist in the provision of good governance to the people at the grassroots and win back their trust in government.

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“It is obvious that government cannot afford to pay lip-service to the recommendations contained in this report.

“I assure you that the report will be treated with the seriousness and urgency it deserves. Government will study the report with the view to implementing the carefully detailed recommendations,” he said.

While commending the quality of the report, the commitment and dedication that went into it, he said the National Institute can always be trusted to deliver on very critical and sensitive assignments of national importance.

He expressed delight that the NIPSS had been exceptional in handling several assignments, and that the current submission is also a commendable improvement on the existing standards.

He further stated: “The quality of the presentation, and the confidence with which they were made, strongly attest to the quality of training the participants received during the course. I congratulate you for justifying the confidence and trust reposed in each and every one of you by your respective nominations.

“I am also happy with the level of knowledge and discipline you have all openly demonstrated. I have been briefed of the rigorous training process you all underwent at Kuru. Your graduation therefore is well deserved.”

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He added that he is convinced that they are all now well equipped for the strategic tasks, increased responsibilities, and positions of authority of trust.

“I challenge you to go back to your various establishments, units, posts, beats, departments, directorates, ministries, parastatals, commissions, commands, agencies to revitalise, reinvigorate, reform and rejig your various platforms and spheres of influence, responsibility and leadership.”

Reacting to the demands by the leadership of NIPSS, President Buhari promised to look into some of the challenges facing the institute, adding that no government establishment exists without challenges. He assured them that his administration is poised to complete the review and passage of the NIPSS establishment act and condition of service before handover in May 2023.

Buhari directed the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Office of the Head of Service of the Federation to take all necessary steps to its actualisation. In his remarks, the Director-General of NIPSS, Profesor Ayo Omotayo, said the course participants undertook study tours of 14 states of the federation, six African countries and six countries outside Africa.

“This enabled them to have both local and international perspectives on local governance, how to overcome challenges, identify the available opportunities to strengthen it and develop workable options to be considered by government in strengthening local governance.” He said