President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday directed the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, and the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, to immediately release the second tranche of the London-Paris Club loan refund to states.
He said the presidential order should be carried out “appropriately and with dispatch.”
The President, who returned to the country on Friday from his 49-day medical vacation, also turned down advice by state governors to take more rest.
Buhari said he would not take any further rest until he had addressed all issues affecting Nigerians.
According to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the President spoke while addressing a meeting of the National Economic Council at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The council, which is made up of state governors, is chaired by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.
Buhari, who had earlier released the first tranche of N388bn to the state governments in December 2016, said the latest release was meant to ease their financial hardship.
He stressed the need for the state governors to ensure the settlement of unpaid salaries and pension arrears of their workers with the funds.
“I will not rest until I address those issues that affect our people.
“One of these basic things is the issue of salaries. It is most important that workers are able to feed their families, pay rent and school fees, then other things can follow,” the President was quoted to have said.
He, however, thanked the governors for their display of “love and respect” for him.
Buhari said he was overwhelmed by his recent experience in which states, irrespective of political differences, charged their citizens to pray in mosques and churches for his well-being.
He apologised to the governors for barring them from visiting him while he was in London.
“I didn’t want government to move to London. I wanted it to remain here and I am glad it did,” he said.
After narrating what he went through while on that vacation, Buhari noted the suggestion by the governors for him to take more rest, but insisted that he would remain relentless in the pursuit of the interest of the Nigerian people at all times.
This, according to him, was the only way to show his gratitude to the people who, he said, “had given so much to me. I was overwhelmed by the celebration of my return all across the country.”
The Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Abdul-Aziz Yari of Zamfara State, assured the President, on behalf of his colleagues, that they would continue to support his policies and actions which they had adjudged as being in the nation’s best interest.
The governors of Imo, Akwa-Ibom, Osun and Abia states thanked the President for saving the day for the states through the first tranche of the London-Paris Club loan refunds.
They, however, called for the immediate release of the second one.
They also commended the trust the President reposed in Osinbajo, whom they said did not disappoint when he acted as President.
Buhari had arrived the venue of the meeting chaired by Osinbajo at about 12.30pm while it was already underway.
He went round the hall to shake hands with the state governors and deputy governors standing in for their governors’ one after the other.
The governors also presented the President with a “get-well” card which they all signed.