President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday told the governors of the 36 states to be ready for three months hardship.
Buhari made the disclosure at a meeting with the governors at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He promised to recover funds stolen by government officials who abused their offices in the recent past as well as stop systemic leakages.
The president assured the governors that the days of impunity, lack of accountability, and fiscal recklessness in the management of national resources were over in Nigeria.
“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,’’ Buhari told the governors in a statement by the Presidential spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina.
Expressing surprise that the governors had tolerated the atrocities allegedly committed with the Excess Crude Account since 2011, 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.
He added that what he had heard was going on in many agencies and corporations, particularly the NNPC, were clearly illegal. On the refund of monies spent on federal projects by state governments, Buhari assured the governors that the Federal Government would 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 disclosed that a comprehensive statement on the economic and financial situation inherited by his administration would be made to the nation within the next four weeks.
“We will try and put the system back into the right position. What happened in the 2nd Republic has apparently happened again, and even worse, but we will restore sanity to the system,’’ Buhari assured.
On immediate lifeline for states that owe salaries, Buhari said that a committee headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo would look at the Excess Crude Account and see what could be shared immediately.
The governors, led by Chairman of the Governors Forum, Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara, had presented a wish list to the president.
The list included obedience of extant Supreme Court ruling that all monies go into the Consolidated Federation Account.
The governors requested for an order from the president that all revenue generating agencies must pay into the Consolidated Federation Account and a review of the Revenue Allocation Formula.
Others were the request for refund of the monies expended by states on federal projects and a special consideration to be given to the three states of the North-East under Boko Haram infestation.
The request included full details of the amounts that accrued into the Excess Crude Account from 2011, and how the money miraculously shrank without official sharing.