President Muhammadu Buhari accused governors of misappropriating the allocations of Local Government Areas (LGAs) in their states.
According to him, the misappropriation by unnamed governors is behind the stunted rural development in some states.
The president spoke with members of the Senior Executive Course 44 (2022) of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He alluded to “fraudulent acts” by some governors in the distribution of funds intended for the management of local councils, saying some governors collect money on behalf of council areas and remit only half of such allotment to the council chairpersons.
The council head, he added, always pilfered the remittance, thereby depleting public resources.
He chided the affected governors for lack of integrity.
Buhari said: “Speaking from personal experience, a Chief Executive of a state, a qualified lawyer, trained; what they did – this is my personal experience – if the monies from the Federal Government to state governments is N100million, let’s put it at N100m, N50m will be sent to the chairman with a letter that he will sign that he received N100m.
“The governor will pocket the balance and share it with whoever he wants to and then, the chairman of the local government will see how much he must pay in salaries; to hell goes development! Monies for the salaries will be given and the balance will be put in his pocket. This is what is happening.
“This is Nigeria, it’s a terrible thing, You cannot say the person who was doing this was not educated, he was a qualified lawyer, he was experienced, yet, he participated in this type of corruption.”
Buhari attributed such conduct to a lack of integrity, noting that it contributes to the pervasive corruption in the country.
He added: “So, it’s a matter of conscience. Whichever level we find ourselves. As a leader, you sit here, with all the sacrifices the country is making by putting you through institutions and getting you ready to lead. The fundamental thing is personal integrity. May God help us.”
The president’s criticism came a day after the Federal Government criticised governors for prioritising flyovers and airports over improving conditions in rural areas, thereby, contributing to the country’s high poverty rate.
Buhari pledged that the recommendations contained in the presentation of SEC 44 will be painstakingly studied by the government, with the view to implementing them.
He praised his administration for building trust between the government and the people, adding that the report would largely assist in the provision of good governance to those at the grassroots and by extension win back their trust in government.
Buhari said: ‘‘I assure you that the report will be treated with the seriousness and urgency it deserves. The government will study the report with the view to implementing the carefully detailed recommendations.”
NIPSS Director-General Prof. Ayo Omotayo said the course participants undertook study tours of 14 states, six African countries and six countries outside Africa.
He added: ‘‘This enabled them to have both local and international perspectives on local governance, how to overcome challenges in achieving it, identify the available opportunities to strengthen it and develop workable options to be considered by the government in strengthening local governance.”