From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Following the recent killings of over 43 rice farmers in Borno State, members of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), having deliberated on issues affecting the country, particularly on the issue of national security have resolved to meet President Muhammadu Buhari on the need to address security challenges across the country particularly in the light of the carnage in Borno.
Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, in a communique made available to press, said they also resolve support the necessary reforms that will result in a police force that works for all.
The communique stated: “As an immediate to medium-term measure, members agreed to pay close attention to the conduct of police officers across the country in order to get them and other internal security operatives fully back to work as they have not been functioning to full capacity since the EndSARS protests with the attendant security exposure to the safety of lives and properties of the ordinary citizens”
The governors according for the communiqué also endorsed two proposals for infrastructure development funds’ loans.
The proposals were from Nasir El Rufai’s led National Economic Council (NEC) Adhoc Committee on Leveraging Portion of Accumulated Pension Funds for Investment in the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), and the Governor of Central Bank Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele.
It noted that the El-Rufai committee briefed the Forum on a proposed National Infrastructure Investment Fund (NIIF) under the auspices of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) such that a total sum of N2 trillion at nine per cent interest could be accessed through the NSIA.
The NGF Chairman noted that the CBN Governor had a similar proposal to access N15 trillion naira for national infrastructure funding through INFRACREDIT at a lower interest rate of five per cent.
The governors according to the communiqué noted that both proposals were not mutually exclusive and could be adopted simultaneously with one streaming into the other.”
The communique further stated that the NGF resolved to maintain its stance that stamp duties belong primarily to States and the various collection platforms are channels of payment to the States; while aligning with the guidance provided by its lawyers and experts.
The governors also resolve to direct State Attorney Generals to review the Water Resources Bill and send their input to the Nigeria Governors’ Forum Secretariat as quickly as possible.
They also endorsed the two proposals that canvassed for infrastructure development by both the Governor Nasir el Rufai Committee and the Central Bank Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele, noting that both were not mutually exclusive and could be adopted simultaneously with one streaming into the other.
The governors also commit to achieving the second Eligibility Criteria (EC) requirement of publishing online their approved FY21 Annual State Budget, prepared under the National Chart of Accounts, by 31st January 2021. Governors also restated their commitment to implement reforms associated with the programme including the deployment of a Geographic Information System (GIS) technology to support effective land administration and an efficient property tax system.
They also inaugurated the NGF-NESG Economic Roundtable (NNER) Steering Committee, whose technical committee is to commence the implementation of the strategic plan; which includes but not limited to the national mapping of subnational endowments; global mapping of sub-national entities for global competitiveness and development of competitiveness toolkits;
They also resolved to encourage the Federal Government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to hasten the implementation of the truce elements in their resolutions so as to allow schools reopen immediately.
Meanwhile, with global push for COVID-19 vaccines, the Presidential Task Force on the Novel Coronavirus pandemic has informed governors that about 44 million Nigerians would immediately qualify for the vaccines, which includes medical personnel and the most vulnerable group among which are those over 50 years of age.
Fayemi, said in the communique that the National Coordinator of the PTF on COVID-19, Dr. Sani Aliyu disclosed this when he appeared before the 22nd NGF hybrid meeting.
Aliyu who addressed the Forum on the increasing cases of severe illness among COVID-19 patients in the country especially in Abuja, pleaded with governors to remain very vigilant and keep their treatment Centers open.
He expressed concerns of the PTF on the low testing rates in most of the States and communicated PTF plans to launch a “COVID19 Testing Week” in which 450 tests would be conducted in each of the 774 LGAs over a 2-week period.
Aliyu also solicited for the cooperation of the governors especially on funding, saying the exercise is expected to be funded from the COVID-19 disbursed funds to the States by the Federal Government.
Fayemi said the governors agreed to keep active and operational the State COVID -19 Task Force Teams and Emergency Operation Centers (EOCs) in addition to ensuring the prompt release of funds as outlined in the State Incidence Action Plans (IAP), keeping temporary treatment centers open, ramping up COVID-19 testing across the country, and support the planned “COVID-19 Testing Week’ to be launched by the PTF.