COVID-19: Governors Meet Over Reopening Of Economy, Other Issues

 Members of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) met on Wednesday to discuss issues affecting the country, including the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on Nigerians and the economy.

At the meeting which held virtually and was presided by the NGF Chairman and Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, the governors resolved to approve the work of the NGF Sub-Committee interfacing with the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, to consolidate measures to gradually open the formal and informal sectors of the economy.

Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, who is the chairman of the committee, had briefed the Forum on steps taken to provide a coordinated strategy between the Federal and state governments to ease the lockdown and open the economy.

His counterpart in Kaduna State, Governor Nasir El-Rufai, also provided an update on the implementation of the final report of the NEC Ad-Hoc Committee on COVID-19 “Containing the Outbreak and Responding to the Adverse Economic Effects,” which was presented to the Vice President and Chairman of the Committee, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, in March.

Governor El-Rufai, who is the Chairman of the NGF Sub-Committee on COVID-19, informed his colleagues that the recommendations of the report have been integrated into the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP).

He also outlined the cross-cutting imperatives for a post-COVID economic recovery, including a unique identity system for Nigeria, broadband connectivity, and investment in the manufacturing of pharmaceutical generics.

Others are research and development, as well as institutional reforms for the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) along the lines of PENCOM.

In their resolution, the governors endorsed the work of the sub-committee and resolved to engage with the Vice President to facilitate states’ representation in the implementation committee of the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan.

They also called for the revitalisation of the Nigeria’s Mortgage Bank to support the government’s housing programme, as well as the importance of the N2 trillion Nigeria Infrastructure Investment Fund to stimulate the economy.

Concerned about the rate of the community spread of COVID-19 cases with mild or no symptoms, the NGF urged the state governments to ramp up testing to curb the spread of the virus.

Read the communique issued at the end of the meeting below:

ISSUED AT THE END OF THE 12th COVID-19 TELECONFERENCE MEETING OF THE NIGERIA GOVERNORS’ FORUM HELD ON WEDNESDAY, 8th JULY 2020

We, members of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), at our meeting held today, Wednesday, 8th July 2020 deliberated on issues affecting the country including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The NGF Chairman provided an update on:

The World Bank Regional Disease Surveillance Systems Enhancement (REDISSE) programme which is a US$100 million COVID-19 support from the federal government to fund health mitigation measures across states.

The Fund comes at a critical time as the impact of COVID-19 prolongs and when State governments prepare for the reopening of the economy, and it will support broader mitigation measures required to ensure seamless easing of the lockdown across States.

The COVID19 pandemic and the new strategy being rolled out by the Presidential Taskforce (PTF) to address the spread of the pandemic.

LGAs with a high burden of diseases (hotspot) have been identified and targeted with interventions such as increased testing, and promotion of non-pharmaceutical intervention including hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, mandatory masking in public, and partial or total lockdown restricting movement.

The PTF will reach out and work with the Governors of the respective States to implement the strategy.

Other matters of concern including deductions from the federation account to fund the North East Development Commission (NEDC); stamp duty collection; ownership of the Nigeria LNG Limited (NLNG); as well as the contentious Executive Order 10.

The Forum also received updates and presentations from:

The Governor of Delta State, Dr Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, Chairman of the NGF Sub-Committee interfacing with the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 to provide a coordinated strategy between the Federal and State governments to ease the lockdown and open the economy.

The Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, Chairman of the NGF Sub-Committee on COVID-19 who provided an update on the implementation of the Final Report of the NEC Ad-Hoc Committee on COVID-19 “Containing the Outbreak and Responding to the Adverse Economic Effects” which was presented to the Vice President and Chairman of the Committee, Professor Yemi Osinbajo in March 2020.

The Governor noted that the recommendations of the report have been integrated into the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP).

He also highlighted cross-cutting imperatives for a post-COVID economic recovery, including a unique identity system for Nigeria; broadband connectivity; investment in the manufacturing of pharmaceutical generics; research and development; as well as institutional reforms for the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) along the lines of PENCOM.

Engr. Nuruddeen Rafindadi, Managing Director, Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) who made a presentation on FERMA’s Road Maintenance Programme and Challenges.

Oliver Stolpe, Country Representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Nigeria and Dr Yemi Kale, Statistician-General, National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) presented findings of the second Corruption Survey in Nigeria, which showed that the incidence of bribery has decreased since 2016 when the survey was first conducted, from 32.3% to 30.2%.

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva also addressed the Forum on the National Gas Expansion Programme (NGEP) which is designed as a catalyst to adding value to the vast natural gas reserves in Nigeria.

The plan will also spur revitalisation across gas-based industries in fertilizer, methanol, textiles, and feedstock for industries.

Thereafter, members of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum resolved as follows to:

Endorse the work of Governor Okowa’s Committee to consolidate measures to gradually open the formal and informal sectors of the economy.

Endorse the work of the El-Rufai Committee and resolved to engage with the Vice President and Chairman of the National Economic Council, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, to facilitate States’ representation in the implementation committee of the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan.

Members also advocated for the need to revitalise Nigeria’s Mortgage Bank to support the government’s ambitious housing programme, and the importance of the N2 trillion Nigeria Infrastructure Investment Fund to stimulate the economy.

Collaborate with the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and FERMA to ensure the implementation of the 5% user charge on the pump price of petrol and the international vehicle transit charge to better fund road projects in Nigeria.

Although the second corruption survey focused on federal government agencies, members resolved to collaborate with UNODC to strengthen public complaints mechanisms across State MDAs given that state institutions, businesses, and households are affected by bribe seeking among public sector officials.

Collaborate with the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to support the implementation of the National Gas Expansion Programme through a state-wide adoption of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG); easing gas pipeline right of way applications; and encouraging the micro stove assembly for small businesses, including facilitating training for gas operators.

Finally, given the rise in the community spread of coronavirus cases with mild or no symptoms, State governments are encouraged to ramp up testing to curb the spread of the virus especially amongst those with pre-existing conditions and the elderly.

Governor Kayode Fayemi

Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum

8th July 2020

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