Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Governors of the 36 states have asked the Federal Government to suspend the state counterpart funds required for accessing the Universal Basic Education (UBE)Fund and the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF).
This was contained in a communique issued at the end of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) virtual meeting Wednesday night.
The Federal Government had launched UBE in 1999 with the aim of providing free, universal and basic education for every Nigerian child between the ages of 6 and 15.
The communique signed by NGF’s Chairman and Ekiti Governor, Kayode Fayemi explained that discussions were ongoing with the Federal Government through the Ministry of Education to facilitate access to unrealised funds from the UBE fund.
Fayemi said the forum was awaiting an advisory from the Attorney General of the Federation on the call for a waiver on counterpart funds from states in the light of the impact of COVID-19 on state finances.
“The Forum will continue to engage with the Federal Government on the suspension of state counterpart funds required for accessing the UBE Fund and the Basic Health Care Provision Fund based on the recommendations of the National Economic Council Ad-Hoc Committee on COVID-19 chaired by the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. State governments will continue to provide appropriate support to the independent verification teams from the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation (OAuGF) who are currently in states to conduct the 2019 Annual Performance Assessment for the SFTAS programme,” Fayemi said.
Fayemi said the NEC security ad hoc committee, comprising governors of Ekiti, Katsina, Borno, Bayelsa, Ebonyi, Kogi and Lagos, met with President Muhammad Buhari on Augusr 11 to present the concerns of governors on the security situation in the country.
“At the meeting, President Buhari called for better inter-service coordination and assured governors that necessary security equipment were being provided to the security agencies,” Fayemi said.
He also said states were to engage officials of the Nigeria Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) to forestall their intention to embark on an industrial action.
Fayemi said 29 states have received funding from the Regional Disease Surveillance Systems Enhancement (REDISSE) project to strengthen their public health response to COVID-19.
He said testing remained the number one priority for the government, adding that states in the country now had molecular laboratories while investments were being directed to the remaining four states.
“Data from COVID-19 tests conducted in the country show that 20 local government areas in the country account for 50 per cent of the COVID-19 cases recorded. In the light of this, all state governments will be required to scale up risk communications campaigns in these areas through state and local structures,” he said.
He said the governors at the meeting resolved to scale up the implementation of the Risk Communications Community Engagement (RCCE) strategy developed by the Presidential Task on COVID-19 (PTF).