The president said this through one of his spokespersons, Garba Shehu adding that the sum of N552.74 billion had been approved as refund to the governors.
About 33 governors are reportedly expected to receive 25 percent of their approved. The report quoted Shehu as saying the payment followed the claims by the states that they had been overcharged in deductions for external debt service between 1995 and 2002.
He noted that the president directed the minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, to make the payment as he remained troubled over the issue of workers' benefits, particularly salary and pensions which he said must be paid immediately.
The statement reads: “When he assumed office last year, the President declared an emergency on unpaid salaries, following the discovery that 27 out of the 36 states had fallen behind in the payments to their workers, in some cases for up to a year.
“Following this, a bailout loan was issued to the states twice, with a first batch of about N300bn given to them in 2015 in the form of soft loans.
“The administration also got the Debt Management Office to restructure their commercial loans of over N660bn and extended the life span of the loans.
“Because this did not succeed in pulling many of the states out of distress, the Federal government this year gave out a further N90bn to 22 states as yet another bailout loans under very stringent conditions.
“President Buhari is of the opinion that the payment of salaries and pensions must be given priority to save both serving and retired workers and their families from distress.”