As part of efforts geared toward addressing the security challenges facing the country, the 36 State Governors under the aegis of Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) unanimously resolved to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari as soon as possible.
This was part of the resolutions was contained in the communique issued after the 22nd NGF meeting (hybrid) which was signed by its Chairman, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, where they review the recent killings of over 43 rice farmers in Borno State by suspected Boko Haram insurgents and other socio-economic issues.
Also at the meeting, the Governors expressed support for the “necessary reforms that will result in a Police force that works for all.
“As an immediate to medium-term measure, members agreed to pay close attention to the conduct of Police Officers across the country in order to get them and other internal security operatives fully back to work as they have not been functioning to full capacity since the EndSARS protests with the attendant security exposure to the safety of lives and properties of the ordinary citizens.
On the aftermath to the EndSARS protests, the judicial commissions of enquiry instituted by Governors across the 36 States of the federation to probe petitions of brutality by law enforcement agents were in progress.
“Following Mr President’s approval of the request of Governors for change in the financing model of the Universal Basic Education from the current counterpart funding requirement to a Programme for-Result performance-driven model, the NGF Secretariat was following up with the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to complete work on drafting the Executive Order to guide Mr President’s directive,” the communique read in part.
After receiving updates on Stamp Duty collections, the Governor’s who noted that position of the law, maintained that stamp duty belongs primarily to the States and the various platforms were collection channels for payment to the States.
After the deliberation on the controversial Water Resources Bill, the Governors directed all the State Attorney Generals to review the Water Resources Bill and send their input to the Nigeria Governors’ Forum Secretariat as quickly as possible, adding that the NGF Secretariat is tracking feedback from States on the Water Resources in order to coordinate the Forum’s response to the Ministry.
Also at the meeting, the Governor’s currently intervening in resolving the lingering ASUU strike and has secured certain concessions from the Federal Government with the hope that the strike action will be called off shortly.
However, the Governors expressed concern over the delayed release of Saving One Million Lives (SOML) funding, due to observations made by the World Bank on the technical quality of the SMART Survey which makes it difficult to use the result for fund disbursement.
“Also, the total amount won by the States was more than the funds remaining in the funding envelope. He proposed the option of using a prorated approach to disburse the fund and urged the Honourable Minister of Health to convene a meeting of the SOML Steering Committee to resolve the issue.”
During the deliberation on the proposed N2 trillion National Infrastructure Investment Fund (NIIF) under the auspices of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) at 9% interest rate, the NGF Chairman noted that the CBN Governor had a similar proposal to access N15 trillion for national infrastructure funding through INFRACREDIT at a lower interest rate of 5%.
While giving an update on the COVID-19 pandemic, National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Dr Sani Aliyu addressed the Forum on the increasing cases of severe illness among Covid-19 patients in the country, especially in Abuja.
Dr Aliyu who appealed to the Governors on the need to remain very vigilant and keep their treatment Centers open expressed concerns of the PTF on the low testing rates in most of the States and communicated PTF plans to launch a ‘COVID-19 Testing Week’ in which 450 tests would be conducted in each of the 774 LGAs over a 2-week period.
He, therefore, solicited for the cooperation of the Governors especially for the funding of the exercise, which is expected to be funded from the COVID19 fund disbursed to the States by the Federal Government.
On COVID-19 vaccines, he disclosed that about 44 million Nigerians would immediately qualify for the vaccines, which includes medical personnel and the most vulnerable group among which are those over 50 years of age.
The Forum also applauded the improved performance of States in the just concluded 2019 Annual Performance Assessment (APA) for which 32 States are eligible for disbursement before the end of 2020, compared to 2018 APA
where only 24 States met the Eligibility Criteria of publishing their approved budget and audited financial statement online. Already, 36 States are on track to meet the 2020 SFTAS Eligibility Criteria (EC) having published online IPSAS-compliant 2019 audited financial statements by 31st August 2020.
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