Buhari said this at a meeting with the APC governors-elect at Defence House, Abuja, on Monday.
He also lamented the poor state of the economy which has made it difficult for both the federal and state governments to meet their obligations to workers.
The President-elect was responding to pleas by the incoming governors for him to prepare a sort of bail out for states to enable them pay salaries.
Buhari said, “The expectation is too high and I have started nervously to explain to people that Rome was not built in a day.”
According to him, it is sad that the nation is grappling with security challenges while the economy is lying prostrate with most states unable to pay salaries in spite of the revenue we earned from 1990 till date.
He also said, “For this to be corrected, please give the incoming government a chance. Here, I will like to recall what happened during the Abacha regime which led to the emergence of PTF.”
The former military ruler recalled that, “The Abacha regime was a military regime and it thought that the only way was to increase the prices of petroleum products, but they were not taking Nigerians for a ride.
“They could have said if Nigerians decide too riot, they have the guns and so they can have their way. They decided to tell Nigerians that they were going to increase prices of petroleum products and the money we get, we will put aside for development. That was how PTF came.”
Perhaps in a veiled reference to what his administration is planning to do to mitigate the effects of the economic down turn, Buhari hinted at embarking on public enlightenment to galvanise public support for his economic policies.
The President-elect said, “This time around, under this system, to bounce back with the issue especially with the backlog of salaries which are of immediate concern to individuals and states, I think we should look for a better way to address the issue and think of how to persuade people to give us a chance to organise the economy immediately and get something to pay salaries.”
He reaffirmed his determination to give priority to securing the lives and property of Nigerians because according to him no meaningful development can take place without security.