Buhari said Nigeria was unable to meet some of its financial obligations to its citizens due to oil theft, he told government workers requesting a pay increase as a result of double-digit inflation.
"On your request for salary review, I wish to urge you to appreciate the revenue constraints being presently faced by government which is caused mainly by the activities of unscrupulous citizens through the theft of our crude oil, a major contributor to our revenue base," Buhari said.
Nigeria lost $1 billion in revenue during the first quarter of this year due to crude theft, the oil regulator has said.
Crude theft in Nigeria poses an existential threat to the country's oil industry, the local head of Shell has said, resulting in the shutdown of two of its major pipelines.
(Reporting by Felix Onuah; Writing by Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by Susan Fenton and Toby Chopra)
By Felix Onuah