Governors Rose Yesterday From The National Economic Council Meeting With A Resolve To Adopt Austerity Measures In Response To Dwindling Oil Revenue
Governors of the 36 States of the Federation yesterday rose from their 59th National Economic Council meeting with a resolve to embark on belt tightening measures to save the states from further economic woes.
This is just as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), yesterday approved restructuring of existing bank loans from a short term repayment period to a minimum of 20 years, as part of bailout for financially ailing states. Loans for salary arrears will now be extended to a minimum of 15 and not more than 20 years.
The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, announced the loan restructuring at the National Economic Council Meeting, yesterday. Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State broke the news while briefing State House Correspondents after the NEC meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
Gov. Ambode made it emphati cally clear that they had resolved that states cannot continue with the current huge burden it is presently called upon to carry. According to him, “A situation where you are having a huge percentage of your budget as recurrent expenditure is obviously not acceptable. And we must look for ways of reducing the cost of administration in the various states.”
Mr. Ambode who declared that NEC could not develop a common template for all the 36 states, noted that each state was expected to develop specific response mechanism for dealing with the financial challenge facing them. “We have just finished the 59th meeting of economic council in which a lot of issues were deliberated upon. “We resolved that all states should find ways to reduce their cost of governance.
“We do not have a uniform template on how to reduce the cost of governance but it is very clear that states in their specific situations will find different ways and means of ensuring that the cost of running government is not as huge as it has always been”, he said.
He, therefore, declared that it was left for the states in their respective situation to find the different ways of cutting cost, adding that “what is important is that we cannot continue with the kind of huge burden or huge cost we applying to run our government”
He argued that states currently spends huge percentage of their budget on recurrent expenditure, adding that “this is obviously not acceptable” Speaking on the current efforts to check insurgency in the country, Governor Ambode commended President Buhari for his efforts in tackling Boko Haram in the north eastern part of Nigeria.
He noted that although the insecurity was taking a huge toll on the nation’s economy, President Buhari is doing everything necessary to tackle the challenge. “We also spoke about the issue of insurgency in the north east and the activities of Boko Haram, we spoke extensively on its implication to the whole nation, and the effect on our economy.
“We also recognized the frantic efforts that have been made by the President and even his recent visit to the US in trying to find solution to resolve the situation in the north east. “We also recognize the fact that the new service chiefs will cooperate with the president and also ensure that all the things that need to be put in place are done as quickly as possible”, he stated.
He also disclosed that the states resolved to support the FG in all its policies to boost the economy of this nation. “Above all we also spoke in areas to boosting the revenue potential of the country.
“We commend the efforts of the president and vice-president on their visits to areas in the north east and also resolved that we will do things in all ways and rights to ensure that we boost the economy of the states in the north east”, Ambode said. Speaking on the four-man committee set up to check the Excess Crude Account and other issues arising therefrom, he said the committee was yet to submit its report to NEC. “The Committee is yet to submit its report.
It is still working on it and we believe very strongly we will get that report in the next meeting”, he said. Governors who attended the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting included those of Cross River, Kaduna, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Katsina, Enugu, Anambra, Gombe, Delta, Kano, Lagos, Niger, Adamawa, Ondo, Sokoto, Yobe, Osun, Bauchi, Ebonyi, Kebbi, Plateau, Taraba, Zamfara, Bayelsa, Deputy Governors of Imo, Oyo and Kogi states.
-Tony Ailemen, Abuja