Governors of the 36 states in the country have declared that they are in a “bad shape”, and are looking out for short term measures on which to survive so as to live to enjoy the benefits derivable from the long term formula.
Rising from a meeting on Wednesday night, the states’ chief executives explained that they needed to come together and discuss “intensively” about the economy.
The N299bn shared from the federation account for March 2016 is regarded as among the lowest since the return to democracy in 1999. This necessitated the deferment of deductions from the federation account to avoid a situation where some states would receive “negative” allocations.
The NGF Chairman, Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara state, who highlighted this reality, told newsmen after the closed-door meeting that “If you look carefully at this month’s federation account, it’s the worst ever in the last six years, so definitely we had to come to a round table.”
Stressing that they were in very bad situation, he said: “We were elected under different party platforms to perform, not just to pay salaries. It is worse not to be able to pay salaries, so the issue is very, very serious that we are coming back to discuss it and if we have the opportunity we will come back to see our leader, Mr. President.”
The governors disclosed that they want a permanent solution, not just bail-outs, adding that the diversification is a “long term programme” but that they want something to live on in the short term.
In Yari’s words, “We are looking for a short term formula for you to live, at least survive before the long term. So on diversification, we are looking on agriculture, which is supposed to be the major focus long time ago but has been neglected by the past administrations.
“Now that we found ourselves in this situation we are working harder to diversify the economy and to look forward to a more permanent solution should oil go out of existence but at the same time we have to look for a short-term solution.”
Also speaking with the reporters, Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State expressed satisfaction that “everybody is concerned about the dwindling economy and we must as leaders of this country come together to find solutions and I agree with all the positions”.
His Akwa Ibom counterpart, Udom Emmanuel, while acknowledging that no solution can be achieved in a two-hour meeting, observed that the current economic crisis was not peculiar to Nigeria.
According to him, “It’s a global issue, so you can’t just at one meeting of about two hours fashion out entire solution for the country. We troubleshoot some points, we discuss those points and we have to weigh the impact of those points both the positive, negative, the extreme, the mid-point.
“Once you are bringing out certain policies, you also need to align those policies with the socio-cultural environment that you are operating in, what may work in this part of the world may not work in other parts, even though it is a good policy,” he noted.