ABUJA— President-elect, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), has said that he is currently at a loss on how best to tell Nigerians that his promise of turning the economy around quickly upon assumption of office on May 29 may not be feasible after all.
Buhari premised his fear on the perception that the economy has been battered by the outgoing government of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP.
We’ll inherit empty treasuries – APC govs
This was even as governors elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, said empty treasuries may be awaiting them in their respective states.
The governors cried out that most state governments had gone bankrupt and, therefore, cannot pay workers’ salaries.
According to them, it was obvious that they were going to inherit huge debts which may delay speedy progress in their respective states. They were, however, silent on APC states like Lagos, Edo and Osun, which are currently the most indebted in the country.
Buhari and the governors expressed the fear when the governors paid him a congratulatory visit at the Defence House, Abuja.
Buhari to plead with Nigerians for patience
Buhari, who recalled what the regime of late General Sani Abacha did to establish the defunct Petroleum Trust Fund, PTF, however said he would plead with Nigerians for their understanding and patience even as he reiterated his commitment to restoring security.
He said: “The expectation is too high and I have started nervously to explain to people that Rome was not built in a day. For this to be corrected, please, give the incoming government a chance.
“Here, I will like to recall what happened during the Abacha regime which led to the emergence of PTF. The Abacha regime was a military regime and it thought that the only way was to increase the prices of petroleum products. But they were not taking Nigerians for a ride. They would have said that if Nigerians decide to riot, they have the guns and so they can have their way.
“They decided to tell Nigerians that they were going to increase prices of petroleum products and the money we get, we will put aside for development. That was how PTF came.
“So, this time around, under this system, to bounce back with the issue especially with the backlog of salaries which are of immediate concern to individuals and states, I think we should look for a better way to address the issue and think of how to persuade people to give us a chance to organise the economy immediately and get something to pay salaries. The people will give us a chance to stabilise the economy.”
Buhari who also lamented what he likened to destruction of social infrastructure especially in education, however, assured that his government would ensure that the country is improved in all ramifications.
Buhari also thanked the governors-elect, re-echoing that the formation of APC as an offspring of the merger of the legacy parties earned them victory at the polls.
He said: “The decision to merge was a good one because this helped us. At every step, there were many road blocks. During the merger, APGA and DPP wanted to come in, but we felt that if they are allowed to come in at that time, it will be used to frustrate the merger and so we asked them to stay action until after the merger. So we advised them to just be observers.
“We decided that the nine major people that were leading the Legacy parties should lead us to the first major convention where the new party will then elect its new leadership. These nine people were the national chairmen, the national secretaries and the treasurers.
“The next step was what earned us respect. I had thought that all INEC Commissioners were our enemies and they said, ‘no, take the documents for the registration back because you need presence in all the geopolitical zones of the country.’ There were lots of efforts by the PDP to frustrate our emergence as a party.”
How FG ruined our economy —Okorocha
Addressing journalists after their indoor meeting with Buhari, chairman of APC governors, Chief Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, said the outgoing government had ruined the economy.
According to him, the fact that the Federal Government has not paid April salaries was an indication that the economy was not healthy.
He said: “One of the issues that became of concern to all of us is the state of the Nigerian economy which is really in bad shape. We have come to notify the incoming president of the challenges ahead of him.
“As it stands, most states of the federation have not been able to pay salaries and even the Federal Government has not paid April salary and that is very worrisome.
“By May and June, the salary will be in cumulative of three months. With the huge expectation from Nigerians and people who have voted us into power, we wonder. We are hoping that the president-elect will do whatever that is humanly possible to bring about a bailout not only in the states but the Federal Government, at least for people to get their salaries and turn around the economy.”
Okorocha, who secured his re-election as Imo State governor, called on Nigerians across party leanings to rally round the president-elect to achieve his aims.
Why APC govs visited Buhari
According to Okorocha, their visit to the Defence House was to congratulate Buhari and get him to familiarize with the new APC governors-elect.
His words: “We came here to pay a courtesy call on the president-elect who will be sworn in on the 29th of this month as the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and also to familiarize ourselves, both the new governors and the governors-elect.
“We have seen the reason to work together and support Mr President-elect and we have also called on all our brothers in other political parties to come along with us to build the Nigeria of our dream.
“In a nutshell, we have come to congratulate Buhari on a well deserved victory knowing that this victory, the change we have all been waiting for must only be dedicated to ordinary citizens of Nigeria, who stood up and voted accordingly.”
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