Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Governors of the 36 states of the federation on the platform of Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) have said that they are on red alert over the Lassa Fever epidemic and coronavirus that reportedly claimed 17 lives in the city of Wuhan, China since the virus was detected.
So far over 500 people have reportedly been infected by the virus in China’s Wuhan City, leading authorities to suspend planes and trains in and out of the city of 11 million people, as well as buses, subways and ferries.
The Nigeria Centre for Diseases Control (NCDC) on Wednesday, meanwhile, has confirmed that a total of 82 cases of Lassa Fever including 14 deaths have been recorded.
Briefing reporters at the end of its first meeting of the year Chairman and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, governors are working hand and hand with the Federal Ministry of Health and other agencies to intensify efforts to ensure the diseases are contained.
He said that, to this end, the governors have agreed to carry out immediate actions on the implementation of the Seattle Declaration including the constitution of a multisectoral Primary Health Care Under One Roof (PHCUOR) implementation committee, quarterly review of PHC performance in State Executive Council meetings, review of states‘ performance on the Abuja Commitment and organisation of advocacy meetings with traditional and religious leaders.
Fayemi said: “The Forum received an update from the NGF Secretariat on Health priorities for the year 2020, including the implementation of the Seattle Commitment signed by the Forum at a two-day High-Level Roundtable on Primary Health Care and Human Capital Development convened in November. 2019 (by Aliko Dangote and the Bill and Melinda Gates).
“On the Lassa Fever, we recorded cases in one or two states, Ondo in the South West and Kano in the North.
“I believe all our states are taking precautionary measures to address this in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Health and the National Centre for disease control (NCDC).
“We are working to ensure that this does not spread any further than they have at the moment.”
The NGF chairman speaking on other matters mentioned that, in regard to bailout deductions, even though states were meeting their obligation of paying back, they feel the monthly deductions ought to be lower than N162 million.
Fayemi said: “On Reconciliation for budget support facilities, that is something that has been handled. We have come up with our own recommendations of special fund generally not just budget support facilities
“On budget support facilities specifically, states are already honouring their obligations. They are already paying back what is owed to the federal government.
“The question of the amount is something that we will continue to review. It is our view that we should be paying a lot less what we are paying but that is something that has not been addressed yet. But that has not stopped us from honouring the obligation to the federal government that lend the resources to us at the time that they did.”
The Forum chairman also pledged the governors’ resolve to work with the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy to achieve broadband penetration and digital economy targets in Nigeria.
He said the commitment followed a presentation to the Forum by a delegation led by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, to familiarise the governors on the new National Digital Economic Policy.
“The Minister briefed the Forum on the new national digital economy strategy and solicited the support of states on the development of business regulations around the right of way and multiple taxations, around skills and innovations, infrastructure and indigenous content promotion.”
On the specific demands of the Minister on waiver on the right of way, Adeyemi said: “The main demand with the Minister is that we maintain the fee agreed in the year 2013 at the National Economy Council which is N145 per linear meter in the state.
“The context within which the issue of waiver came up is what has been offered in Kaduna State, for example, where the state government has waived the right of way fee and that is not compulsory or the decision of the Forum even in demand from the Minister, that should be a condition for broadband Penetration or fibre optic laying in our states. It is just that where we think it might be viable, then states will look at the possibility of doing this in our states; but the key demand which we are all interested in pursuing is to ensure that we do not increase the right of way fee beyond what has been generally agreed by governors and NEC.”