President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday declared that the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan perpetuated more atrocities than the government of former President Shehu Shagari, which he toppled as a military general in December 1983 on allegations of widespread corruption and gross mismanagement.
Buhari made the declaration when he met with the 36 state governors in Abuja.
Buhari, however, said the days of impunity, lack of accountability and fiscal recklessness in the management of national resources are over in Nigeria.
President Buhari also vowed that funds stolen by government officials who abused their offices in the recent past will be recovered and systemic leakages stopped.
He said: “There are financial and administrative instructions in every government parastatal and agency.
“But all these were thrown to the dogs in the past.
“Honestly, our problems are great, but we will do our best to surmount them.
“The next three months may be hard, but billions of dollars can be recovered and we will do our best.”
Expressing surprise that the governors had tolerated the atrocities allegedly committed with the Excess Crude Account since 2011, President Buhari promised to tackle the issue decisively.
The President declared that the payment of national revenue into any account other than the Federation Account was an abuse of the constitution, adding that what he had heard was going on in many agencies and corporations, particularly the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, was clearly illegal.
On the refund of monies spent on federal projects by state governments, President Buhari assured the governors that the Federal Government will pay, but insisted that due process must be followed.
The President promised special assistance for the three North Eastern states badly affected by the Boko Haram insurgency.
He also said a comprehensive statement on the economic and financial situation inherited by his administration will be made to the nation within the next four weeks.
He said: “We will try and put the system back into the right position.
“What happened in the Second Republic (headed by Shagari and which he toppled alongside other Generals then) has apparently happened again and even worse, but we will restore sanity to the system.”
On an immediate lifeline for states that owe salaries running into many months, President Buhari said a committee headed by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, will look at the Excess Crude Account and see what can be shared immediately.
The governors, led by Chairman of the Governors Forum, Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State, had presented a wish list to the President.
➢ Obedience of extant Supreme Court ruling that all monies go into the Consolidated Federation Account;
➢ An order from the President that all revenue generating agencies must pay into the Consolidated Federation Account;
➢ Review of the Revenue Allocation Formula;
➢ Refund of the monies expended by states on federal projects;
➢ A special consideration for the three states of the North East under Boko Haram infestation;
➢ Full details of the amounts that accrued into the Excess Crude Account from 2011, and how the money miraculously shrank without official sharing.
Briefing State House correspondents after the meeting, however, Yari, who was joined by his Abia and Bauchi States counterparts, Okezie Ikpeazu and Mohammed Abubakar respectively, expressed the hope that something positive would happen in the next few days.
Yari, who also confirmed the setting up of the committee, said the governors did not discuss the issue of a possible bailout with the President as had been reported in media but the way forward on the critical financial situation facing both the federal and state governments.
Yari revealed that the governors shared knowledge with Buhari from what he had gleaned from the report of the Transition Committee and “what is on ground”.
He said: “We both appreciate that something had to be done.”
The governors have however said that they prefer that the Federal Government intervenes by way of paying off for projects executed by states on its behalf, extend the repayment period of loans owed by the states to banks and ensure prompt payment of all government earnings into the designated account.