When President Muhammadu Buhari warned state governors at a recent meeting in Abuja that the days of impunity and fiscal recklessness was over, everyone knew he was referring to the multibillion naira crushing indebtedness of some former and current state governors and their inability to pay accumulated salary arrears of workers running into several months.
The President told them that the federal government would do everything possible to recover stolen funds by officials of previous and present government. Coming from a President known for his anti-corruption stance, his statement was a clear warning signal that there shall be no sacred cows in his administration, as no one will be spared the hammer of the law where applicable, immunity clause notwithstanding. The governors were perceptive enough to know that their activities, especially their financial transactions would be strictly monitored.
From all indications, this is good talk expected from Mr. President, especially when reports point to governors’ profligacy as the major cause of the current state of insolvency across the country.
In a recent news report, the total debts accrued to the federal and state governments are currently put at $63 billion.
Out of this amount, $18 billion was accumulated between 2010 and 2015. In other words, the actual figure of debt owed by the state governments remains unknown. About a month ago, it was revealed that out of the 36 states of the federation, 21 of them are reportedly enmeshed in debt by both the former and the incumbent governors up to the tune of N1.58 trillion. Some of the states are currently under investigation by the anti-corruption agencies, two All Progressives Congress, APC, governors and four Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, with over N1.39 trillion allegedly looted funds from their various state treasuries.
It is good news that refunds will be made or are being made. Since the kleptomaniac act of these governors signifies the continuous rise in corruption in the states, it is compelling that the time for Buhari to tackle the issue of corruption in the country is now. He should hit the ground running, no matter whose ox is gored, be it APC or PDP governors.
We recall one of the remarks of the President not too long ago that wherever the constitution permits him, he would deploy such powers to checkmate the excesses of governors at the states in addition to tackling corruption at the local government level. This is a welcome development.
Similarly, the President should strengthen anti-graft agencies and set up covert methodology to check governor’s licentiousness. He should put a final stop to ‘Greek Gifts’ practice by governors for political patronage. Such waste of states resources, for instance, on purchasing goats as political gifts for traditional and religious rulers and free fertiliser, rice, rams, cows distribution for political patronage as well as making unnecessary overseas trips with girlfriends and political associates, which put more pressure on the naira and wanton demand for foreign exchange each time their finance commissioners return from Abuja after the FAAC meeting, should be stopped or curtailed with immediate effect.
Instead of running to Abuja cap in hand every month to collect free money, we recommend that state governors should decently generate internal revenue to fund their projects. They should be challenged to introduce farms through modern agricultural projects in order to generate employment for the idle youths in their respective states. They should also reduce their security votes, which should henceforth be made public and subjected to budgetary provisions and appropriation by state legislature.

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