From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The governor of the 36 states of the Federation on the platform of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), rose from their 25th teleconferencing meeting with a resolve to accelerate action on the establishment of ranching as part of efforts to end the incessant clashes between them.
This is even as they have condemned in strong terms the criminality and the ethnic profiling of crime as a result of the widespread banditry and the herders- farmers crisis.
The Chairman of the NGF and the Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, who signed the communique released at the end of the meeting, said this will help curb insecurity in the country.
He said: “Following an update from Governors on the various initiatives taken by State governments to address the rising insecurity in the country due to the activities of herdsmen, members reached a consensus on the need for the country to transition into modern systems of animal husbandry that will replace open, night and underage grazing in the country. State governments are encouraged to put in place systems to accelerate the grazing initiative of the National Livestock Transformation Plan and ranching in the country.
“The Forum respects the right of abode of all Nigerians and strongly condemns criminality and the ethnic profiling of crime in the country in an effort to frame the widespread banditry and the herders- farmers crisis. In the light of the economic and security risks that have arisen from these circumstances, the Forum resolved to urgently convene an emergency meeting of all Governors.
“The Chairman of the Northern States Governors’ Forum (NSGF) and Governor of Plateau State, Rt Hon. Simon Bako Lalong provided an update on steps taken by the Governors of the 19 Northern States and cautioned against the tagging of ethnic groups based on the misbehavior of a few criminally minded individuals. He called on State governors to address this matter head-on in their various States.”
The governors also debunked what they called by misinformation from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources that it has so far registered 4.5 million farmers nationwide under the Agriculture for Food and Jobs Plan (AFJP).
They said: “Following an update by Governor Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi State, members resolved to immediately address the misinformation from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources that it has so far registered 4.5 million farmers nationwide under the Agriculture for Food and Jobs Plan (AFJP), a key component of the Nigeria Economic and Sustainability Plan (NESP) designed to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on farmers.”
On the current conversation on the COVID-19 pandemic, which is focused on making vaccines available as soon as possible to Nigerians, Fayemi called on all relevant agencies and public- spirited organizations involved in the procurement of vaccines to work amicably to ensure that the vaccines arrive the country quickly. He announced that the NGF will shortly inaugurate an advisory group of experts to provide high-level strategic guidance and support to the NGF on the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines in the short time and the local production of vaccines in the medium to long term.
He said the forum is also engaging directly with the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) to ensure that vaccines are administered equitably, first to workers who are on the frontlines of the pandemic.
The Forum also deliberated on the underutilization of fiscal facilities in the country including the Universal Basic Education (UBE) Fund, the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) and the Saving One Million Lives programme for results (SOML) which are meant to expand the size and scope of resources spent on health and education across all States of the Federation.
The communique noted that the Forum recognises that the timely implementation of these facilities in line with the financing plans of States is vital to ensure expenditure coherence and the sustainability for several projects on primary health care and basic education implemented at the State-level, especially during this period of the COVID-19 pandemic where the demand for government intervention has been heightened.
On the Saving One Million Lives (SOML) performance for results project, the NGF Chairman announced that the Federal Ministry of Health, the Commissioners for Health Forum and the World Bank have resolved to distribute the outstanding funds under the Disbursement Linked Indicators (DLI 1,2) equally amongst all the 36 States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
On the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF), the Chairman expressed concern over the delay in the payment of funds to the three pilot BHCPF States of Abia, Niger and Osun. He urged the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) and the World Bank (WB) to urgently disburse the funds to these States using the original BHCPF Guidelines for States.