Governors seek suspension of infectious disease bill
• Make case for states in sharing of looted funds
• Task new CoS, Gambari on nation building
The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) has urged the National Assembly to step down the proposed Control of Infectious Diseases Bill, 2020 introduced by the House of Representatives until an appropriate consultative process is held.
The Chairman of the Forum and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who disclosed this in a communique issued at the end of the group’s eighth teleconference yesterday, said that the consultation must include a public hearing to gather public opinions and concerns.
According to Fayemi, the governors, after receiving an update on the proposed bill, raised concerns on the lack of consultation with state governments who are at the forefront of the epidemic and resolved that the bill should be stepped down until an appropriate consultative process is held.
He disclosed that in the light of the development, the forum established a committee comprising the governors of Katsina, Sokoto and Plateau states to lead a consultative meeting with the leadership of the National Assembly on the proposed bill. The NGF secretariat has also been mandated to comprehensively review the bill with a view to bringing out its implication on states.
Fayemi said the governors expressed worry about the rising trend of deductions from revenues accruable to the federation account available for distribution to the three tiers of government, describing it as a threat to the fiscal capacity of states to respond to the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said that members also raised concerns about the ownership and distribution of proceeds from recovered looted funds and accounts or investments funded as first-line charge from the federation account. The forum agreed to engage the Federal Government to ensure that the governance arrangement of all federation-funded investments recognise state governments as shareholders in the distribution of proceeds and decision making.
The forum also expressed worry over the rising number of coronavirus cases in the country which reached 4,787 by 12th May 2020, based on an update from the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.
“The worrying trend urgently calls for additional measures by state governors to ramp up capacity for testing, increase the availability of isolation beds to at least 300 per state, accelerate procurement of additional personal protective equipment (PPE) and training for health workers, as well as the continued enforcement of restriction of interstate movement.
“In line with the commitment made by the forum to intensify public-private collaboration for the delivery of palliatives from the private sector, governors are making warehouses available for the delivery of palliatives and have appointed state coordinators who will be responsible for the receipt and distribution of palliatives to vulnerable persons,” the communiqué read in part.
Fayemi said that the governors, after receiving a briefing from the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari, on the Oil and Gas Industry Intervention Initiative on COVID-19, commended the corporation for leading the industry to take the initiative, and advised the group to prioritize interventions that will boost the country’s testing capacity and the capacity of health workers who are on the frontline of the epidemic.
“Following an update from the governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki on the operation of the World Bank States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) project which is supporting a strong pro-poor fiscal response to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the governors agreed to take additional measures to strengthen their public financial management systems, including a revision of their 2020 budgets and the amendment of state procurement guidelines to support e-procurement and the participation of small and medium-sized enterprises.
“To fast-track the deployment of e-procurement across states, the forum will be adopting a Software as a Service (SaaS) model with the Kaduna State government providing the framework agreement that other states can leverage.
“The forum has followed with interest, the development of the 12-month economic sustainability plan by the Federal Government, which was designed to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 crisis. In the spirit of developing a truly coordinated national response to the crisis, governors expressed the importance of greater consultation and collaboration between the federal and state governments on development planning.
“A committee was consequently set up to interface with the Federal Government on the next Medium-term National Development Plan. The committee is made up of the governors of Bauchi, Plateau, Kebbi, Akwa Ibom, Abia and Ekiti states.
“A 2nd Committee comprising the governors of Gombe, Nasarawa, Delta, Ebonyi, Oyo and Kaduna states was established to steer the activities of the NGF-NESG Economic Roundtable (NNER) – a sub-national platform of the NGF and the Nigerian Economic Summit Group created to promote sub-national competitiveness through public-private collaboration,” the communiqué further read.
The governors congratulated the newly appointed Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari and wished him well even as they look forward to a fruitful partnership that will support the development of the country.
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