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

A file photo of members of the NGF at a meeting in Abuja in January 2020.

 

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

Governors To Interface With Health Ministries Over Doctors’ Demands

A file photo of members of the NGF at a meeting in Abuja in January 2020.

 

 

Members of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) have agreed to interface with the Federal and State Ministries of Health to address the concerns of resident doctors in the country.

This formed part of the resolutions of the governors at the 11th NGF COVID-19 teleconference held on Wednesday.

In a bid to review the concerns of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), the governors promised to ensure that backlog of salaries was settled where such exist, and reintegrate residency training in state hospitals where they have been suspended.

They also resolved to ensure the ministries provide protective equipment and ensure sustainable pathways to uphold the welfare of doctors in an effective and efficient manner.

During the meeting, NARD President, Dr Sokomba Aliyu, had conveyed the concerns of resident doctors to the governors.

He decried the non-implementation of residency training in most states of the federation, non-payment of salaries, and the use of inappropriate salary structures in some states.

Dr Aliyu informed the meeting that a state had cut the salaries of civil servants by 25 per cent across the board, noting that the resident doctors were also affected.

According to him, there was no basis for slashing the salaries of his members who instead of staying at home are encountering even added challenges at work.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, presented a newly developed three-year Health Sector COVID-19 Response Action Plan to the governors.

He explained that the plan was aimed at repositioning the nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic over a medium-term outlook.

Dr Ehanire gave an assurance that about a million Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) were available for healthcare workers in the various facilities across the country.

Supported by the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Professor Mohammed Sambo, and the Executive Director/CEO of National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr Faisal Shuaib, the minister provided clarifications on observations raised by the states on the new guidelines on the implementation of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund.

Among other resolutions, the governors commended the efforts of those involved in the process of ensuring Nigeria attains its latest status on wild polio.

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

ISSUED AT THE END OF THE 11th COVID-19 TELECONFERENCE MEETING OF THE NIGERIA GOVERNORS’ FORUM HELD ON WEDNESDAY, 24th JUNE 2020

We, members of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), at our meeting held today, Wednesday, June 24, 2020 deliberated on a set of issues affecting the country, especially the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, not just on the citizenry but on the economy as well.

The NGF Chairman provided an update on:

The Forum’s conscious intervention in ending the strike action of the Nigeria Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), who had commenced a nationwide strike on Monday 15th June 2020 over unpaid salaries, improved hazard allowances, the unavailability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for frontline workers and those of their colleagues working in high-risk areas, non-domestication and non-implementation of Medical Residency Training Act.

The harmonisation of Right of Way (RoW) charges across States and bilateral discussions with the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Ali Pantami, geared towards promoting investments in broadband infrastructure in the country.

The Forum received further updates and presentations from:

The Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, Chairman of the NGF State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) Sub-Committee interfacing with the World Bank to facilitate the provision of Additional Financing for States to support governments’ response to the COVID-19 crisis.

The World Bank Task Team Leader for the SFTAS program, Yue Man Lee who provided an update on the 2019 Annual Performance Assessment and preparatory arrangements for the US$750 Additional Financing.

The Honourable Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, who presented a newly developed 3-year Health Sector COVID-19 Response Action Plan which is aimed at repositioning the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic over a medium-term outlook. The Minister also assured State governments of the availability of about a million Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for health care workers in the various facilities throughout the country.

The Honourable Minister of Health, supported by the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Professor Mohammed Sambo and the Executive Director/CEO of National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) Dr Faisal Shuaib also provided clarifications on observations raised by the states on the new guidelines on the implementation of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund and the need to fast track its release in the light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, when increased health response is required and when State governments are experiencing financial strains that threaten their ability to meet counterpart obligations.

The President of the National Association of Resident Doctors, Dr. Sokomba Aliyu also made a presentation conveying the concerns of resident doctors including, among others, the non-implementation of residency training in most States of the federation, non-payment of salaries and the use of inappropriate salary structures in some States. Dr. Sokomba Aliyu also told Governors about a particular state where a 25% salary cut across board also affected resident doctors most of whom continued to work, arguing that there was no basis for slashing the salaries of his members who instead of staying at home are encountering even added challenges at work.

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

Congratulate State governments since the creation of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum for their contribution to the delisting of Nigeria from the global polio map as Nigeria on June 18, 2020 attained the status of being Wild Polio-Virus-Free. The Forum commended the commitment of all stakeholders, including the Federal Ministry of Health, the Dangote Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for their strong domestic and global financing support which was instrumental to strengthening the country’s capacity for surveillance and routine immunization. The achievement is a great milestone for the public health history of the country.

Engage with the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning to take on the new SFTAS Additional Financing as grants to States following the momentum on fiscal accountability and sustainability generated by the current SFTAS programme and the need for sustained funding for State governments in the wake of the fiscal pressure that accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recommend that the Federal Ministry of Health and its agencies engage with the National Assembly Health Committee and State Commissioners of Health to harmonize a workable strategy that will facilitate the speedy release of the BHCPF to fund primary health care activities at the subnational level.

Review the concerns of the Resident doctors and interface with the Federal and State Ministries of health to address the concerns of resident doctors in the country, by settling backlog of salaries where such exist, reintegrating residency training in State Hospitals where they have been suspended, providing protective equipment and ensuring sustainable pathways to uphold the welfare of doctors in an effective and efficient manner.

Governor Kayode Fayemi

Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum

24th June 2020

Governors Intervene In Doctors’ Strike, Promise To Resolve Grievances

A file photo of members of the NGF at a meeting in Abuja in January 2020.

 

 

The Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) has intervened in the ongoing nationwide strike by members of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD).

Following a meeting between the NGF Chairman and Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, and the leadership of the association.

The spokesperson for the NGF Secretariat, Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, disclosed this in a statement on Saturday.

He noted that it was the first time the doctors would seek the governors’ intervention, adding that the NGF governor urged them to call off the strike.

READ ALSO: Resident Doctors Embark On Indefinite Strike

According to Bello-Barkindo, the NARD representatives promised to meet with other executive members of the association and await the action of the NGF on the issues raised.

He added that at the end of the meeting, NARD President reached out to the secretariat that the doctors have agreed to “call off the strike” to allow the governors to address their complaints.

The doctors embarked on the industrial action on Monday but exempted their colleagues working in various coronavirus (COVID-19) isolation and treatment centres across the country, to join them after two weeks.

Among other demands, they asked the government to provide protective equipment for all healthcare workers and immediately reverse the disengagement of all 26 resident doctors at the University Teaching Hospital in Jos, the Plateau State capital.

Read the full statement by Bello-Barkindo below:

It was the very first time that NARD would be putting their grievances before the Forum.

After listening to them, the NGF Chairman reminded the NARD executives of their Hippocratic oath and admonished them to always bring their conscience to the fore “because when you strike, it is not the men in power that suffer but the common man on the streets.”

Dr Fayemi commended them for remaining in the country to serve in spite of the abundant opportunities and lucrative offers that await them abroad.

However, Dr Fayemi also reminded them that government has always invested huge sums of money to train them and it would amount to a disservice to their fatherland to flee the country without giving their services in return.

Dr Fayemi appealed to the NARD to call off the strike promising that the NGF would sit in a week’s time and consider their grievances along with all the other members of the Forum, with a view to finding a lasting solution to those of their problems that are immediately possible for the Forum to tackle.

The doctors, led by their president, Dr Aliyu Sokomba, and their National Secretary Dr Bilkisu, left the NGF Secretariat with a promise to consult the membership of their association to prevail on them to put their faith in the NGF and await the action of the governors on the matter.

It is on that basis that the President reached out to the DG of the NGF this evening as they close the NARD meeting to announce that they are calling off the strike to allow the governors to address their complaints.

Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo

Head, Media, and Public Affairs

Nigeria Governors’ Forum Secretariat

Rape: NGF Asks All Governors To Domesticate Child Rights Act, Others

A file photo of members of the NGF at a meeting in Abuja in January 2020.

 

 

The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) has called on its members to domesticate the Child Rights Act, updated Penal Code, and Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act.

It explained that this was important to tackle the alarming rate of rape and other forms of sexual violence in various parts of the country.

This formed part of the resolutions reached at the 10th COVID-19 teleconference of members of the Forum which held on Wednesday.

According to a communique issued at the end of the meeting, the governors resolved to declare a state of emergency on sexual and gender-based violence.

They condemned violence against women and children and warned that offenders would be made to face the full wrath of the law.

The Forum stressed that the domestication of relevant gender-based protection laws would increase protection for women and children.

It added that such a step would ensure speedy investigation and prosecution of perpetrators, in addition to creating a sex offenders’ register to name and shame the culprits.

The meeting also deliberated on the public hearing on the proposed Control of Infectious Disease Bill, 2020 at the House of Representatives.

In their resolutions, the governors maintained that states should be conferred with the powers to declare any place within their territory an infected area.

They also sought to make regulations and directives towards prevention and further spread of an infectious disease within the state, in addition to having the powers to establish Centres for Disease Control.

The governors, therefore, called for a review of the discretionary powers of the President and the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), as contained in the proposed bill.

They condemned some portions of the bill which they said violated the human rights of the people and highlighted the potential contraventions with the nation’s Constitution.

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

We, members of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), at our meeting held today, Wednesday, June 10, 2020, deliberated on a number of issues affecting the country especially the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

The NGF Chairman provided an update on:

The Forum’s meeting with the Chief of Staff to the President, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN.

The team of governors discussed the implications of the contentious Executive Order #10, which among others mandates the allocation of appropriated funds to the State Legislature and State Judiciary in the State appropriation laws in the annual budget of the State as a First Line Charge upon the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the State.

The delegation of Governors, led by himself, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, and his Kebbi State counterpart, Abubakar Bagudu, represented the Forum;

The public hearing on the proposed Control of Infectious Disease Bill, 2020 at the House of Representatives (Committee on Healthcare Services) which he attended with the Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, on behalf of the Governors.

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 for the Federal and State governments to relax the COVID-19 lockdown;

The Chairman, Board of Trustees of the Nigeria Police Trust Fund (NPTF), Suleiman Abba (IGP, Rtd) on the Police Trust Fund (PTF) which is a special intervention fund established by the Police Trust Fund Act to provide funds for, inter alia, the training and welfare of personnel of the Nigeria Police Force;

The Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen who addressed members on the rising case of rape and gender-based violence in the country which has escalated threefold since the enforcement of the COVID-19 lockdown;

The World Bank Team lead by the Country Director, Shubham Chaudhuri, who gave an update to members on the US$750m additional financing under the State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) Program for Results.

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

Congratulate Mr. President for the decision to postpone the formal publication of Executive Order #10 of 2020 in the Official Gazette to enable further consultations among all stakeholders;

Through the NGF Committee led by the Vice Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto State, continue meeting with the delegation of the Conference of Speakers and other stakeholders to work out modalities for resolving all concerns regarding Executive Order #10 amicably;

Reiterate the position of members that the proposed Control of Infectious Diseases Bill, 2020 takes into account the crucial role of State Governments within Nigeria’s federal system in responding to pandemics in the country.

Specifically, State Governors should be conferred with the powers, among others to, declare any place within their State an infected area; make regulations and directives towards prevention and further spread of an infectious disease within the State; establish States’ Centres for Disease Control; the discretionary powers of Mr. President and the Director-General as contained in the proposed Bill should be reviewed; Finally, while cautioning on certain human rights violations in the proposed Bill, Governors also highlighted potential contraventions with the Nigerian Constitution;

Endorse the work of Governor Okowa’s Committee to consolidate measures to gradually open the formal and informal sectors of the economy, especially agricultural activities in rural areas, manufacturing (including the distribution of goods across States), markets, construction, hotels, and restaurants (takeaways only), and worship centres based on existing COVID-19 protocols;

Agree with the Presidential Taskforce (PTF) to prioritise government’s response in hotspots across the country that account for the largest share of COVID-19 cases.

Governors are encouraging citizens who have COVID-19 symptoms to go for testing to ensure that they receive timely care and that their families are protected from being infected. States are already working with the PTF to ensure that there are operational testing laboratories in each State;

Call on each State government to develop a strategy for opening its economy based on the guidelines agreed to by the PTF and the NGF. So far, success has been recorded in improving the supply and availability of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), with five companies certified by the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to locally produce PPE;

Pass a vote of confidence on the newly appointed Chairman of the Police Trust Fund to steer a responsive and responsible Police Force and called on him to ensure that the composition of the PTF Board is representative of the country’s diversity;

Advise the Chairman of the Police Trust Fund to seek legal advice on the funding sources of the organisation as the current arrangement in its Act which amongst others, sources its funding from 0.5% of the total revenue accruing to the Federation Account violates the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution;

Declare a State of Emergency on Sexual and Gender-based Violence. Governors strongly condemned all forms of violence against women and children and committed to ensuring that offenders face the maximum weight of the law;

Call on State Governors that have not already domesticated relevant gender-based protection laws to domesticate the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act, the Child Rights Act, and the updated Penal Code to increase protection for women and children and ensure speedy investigation and prosecution of perpetrators in addition to creating a ‘sex offenders register’ in each State to name and shame;

Invite the Commissioners of Police to provide a detailed report on the actions taken to strengthen their response to sexual and gender-based violence through the Family Support Units and Force Gender Units at the State and Local Government levels. Governors will commit additional funding for the prevention and response to sexual and gender-based violence through appropriate Ministries, Departments, and Agencies;

Endorse the Communique of the meeting of the First Ladies in Nigeria which held on 7th June 2020 to evaluate and mobilise action to check the alarming rate of sexual violence against women and girls and indeed all forms of violence against women;

Commend the World Bank on the provision of US$750m additional financing for the State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability, and Sustainability Programme for Results (SFTAS). State Governors pledged to ensure that their Ministries of Finance, Budget and Planning are positioned to access available funding to strengthen the COVID-19 response of State governments;

Endorse the recommendations of the NEC Ad-Hoc committee on COVID-19 which highlights key public health and macroeconomic actions for the Federal and State governments – many of which States are already implementing.

Governor Kayode Fayemi

Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum

10th June 2020

Governors To Meet Over Rape, NCDC Bill, Other Issues

A file photo of members of the NGF at a meeting in Abuja in January 2020.

 

 

Members of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) will meet on Wednesday over the alarming rate of rape and other forms of sexual violence, among other critical issues in the country.

The Head of Media and Public Affairs at the NGF secretariat, Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, announced this in a statement on Tuesday.

He noted that the meeting would be the 10th teleconference of the governors since the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Nigeria.

According to the statement, the governors will receive memoranda from various groups, including a statement from the Nigeria Governors’ Spouses Forum headed by the wife of the NGF Chairman and Ekiti State Governor, Mrs Bisi Fayemi.

Bello-Barkindo said the governors’ wives would brief the Forum on violence against women and children that have become a matter of national emergency.

He revealed that the Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Pauline Tallen, has been invited to interface with the governors on critical gender issues, as well as the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to brief them on the Police Trust Fund.

The NGF secretariat spokesperson explained that the meeting would also review the COVID-19 situation in the various states and advance more pragmatic ways of dealing with the pandemic, going forward.

Other issues to be discussed at the meeting include an update on Executive Order 10, a brief from a subcommittee that was assigned to engage the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 headed by Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, among others.

Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, is also expected to present the report of his committee set up in March at the last NEC meeting to review the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy for endorsement.

The statement said, “The state governors will also take a peek into such issues as the World Bank Cares programme, the public hearing on the NCDC Bill 2020, the progress made on the refunds to states on FAAC deductions, the restructuring of states’ loans by the CBN Governor Mr Godwin Emefiele, and the reimbursements for construction of Federal Roads to states like Rivers, Bayelsa, Ondo, Osun, Cross River etc.

“Also on the agenda is a briefing on the CACOVID Distribution of palliatives and also feedback from States. The NGF is expected to get an update to see whether or not the palliatives have made any impact on the citizenry.”

PHOTOS: Buhari Holds Virtual Meeting With Governors, Others

President Muhammadu Buhari at a virtual meeting with some governors and top government officials at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on May 18, 2020.

 

 

President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday held a virtual meeting with representatives of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and some government officials.

The meeting had in attendance the NGF Chairman, Kayode Fayemi, as well as Governors of Plateau and Sokoto states, Simon Lalong and Aminu Tambuwal.

Other governors at the meeting include David Umahi (Ebonyi), Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta), Babagana Zulum (Borno), and Mohammed Abubakar (Jigawa).

President Buhari presided over the meeting from the Council Chamber of the State House in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

In the chamber with him was his Chief of Staff, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, as well as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, also attended the meeting.

This meeting comes as the Federal Government is expected to review the two weeks of ease of the COVID-19 lockdown and possibly adjust its strategies to curb the spread of the disease.

The coronavirus pandemic has taken a huge toll on the country’s cash flow, necessitating a review of the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and the 2020 budget.

See more photos below:

Governors Were Misguided On Infectious Diseases Bill – Reps

A file photo of some members of the House of Representatives at the green chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

 

The House of Representatives has responded to the call by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum to step down the Control of Infectious Diseases Bill, 2020.

In a statement on Thursday, Chairman of the House Committee on Media, Benjamin Kalu, said the governors were misguided on the bill.

He explained that the lawmakers had resolved to subject the Bill to a public hearing where Nigerians from all walks of life would have the opportunity to make their inputs towards the draft legislation.

According to Kalu, the NGF’s position is coming rather late and the House legislates for the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja only.

He said the lawmakers were surprised that in arriving at its decision, the NFG relied on an update from Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal – a former Speaker and erstwhile ranking member of the House.

The House spokesman stressed that bills such as the Control of Infectious Diseases were not subject of the concurrence of State Houses of Assembly or state governors, as stated in the Constitution.

He added that the governors ought to be aware of the lawful processes of legislation and “should not be misguided” by the position of the former speaker.

Kalu raised concern that the presence of Governor Tambuwal in the NGF’s consultative panel may not guarantee a smooth interface with the lawmakers.

He alleged that the former speaker seemed to have already taken a biased position and called on the NGF to review the membership of the consultative committee.

Read the full statement by the House Committee Chairman on Media below:

It has come to the attention of the House of Representatives that the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) has, through a communiqué at the end of its virtual meeting held on Wednesday, May 13, 2020, asked the House to step down the Control of Infectious Diseases Bill, 2020, which public hearing is already scheduled.

In the communiqué, the NGF noted that “Following an update from the Governor of Sokoto State and Vice Chairman of the NGF, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, on the proposed Control of Infectious Diseases Bill, 2020 introduced by the House of Representatives, Governors raised concern with the lack of consultation with State governments who are at the forefront of the epidemic.”

The NGF said it “resolved that the Bill should be stepped down until an appropriate consultative process is held, including a public hearing to gather public opinion and concerns.”

Against the impression given in the NGF’s communiqué, the House has since last week resolved to subject the Control of Infectious Diseases Bill to a public hearing where Nigerians from all walks of life will have the opportunity to make their inputs towards the draft legislation. The NGF’s position is coming rather belatedly.

However, the House wishes to state clearly that whilst it legislates for the Federal Republic of Nigeria, including being the Parliament for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja only; the Nigeria Governors Forum is recognized by members of the House as leading lights in the task of Nation Building.

It is rather surprising that the NGF, in arriving at its decision, relied on “an update from the Governor of Sokoto State,” who, apart from being a lawyer, is a former Speaker and an ex-ranking member of the House, who should know better and guide the Forum accordingly.

We assume that his position was informed by his well-known personal and partisan opposition to the emergence of the current leadership of the house considering his obvious stance in 2015 and 2019.

Unlike in a constitution amendment matter, where state houses of assembly have a defined constitutional role to play in effecting any review to it, Bills such as the Control of Infectious Diseases are not by our constitution subject of the concurrence of state houses of assembly or state governors.

We do believe that our respected Governors are aware of these lawful processes of legislation and should not be misguided by a biased position of a former speaker.

Let it be known that the House of Representatives, and indeed the National Assembly, are independent of the control of any state governor or former Speaker, except if we want to change that now.

Even at that, it has to be by a constitutional amendment sponsored the citizens and not by the personal view of one Governor and former speaker.

Notwithstanding, the House expresses its readiness to work with the Committee raised by the NGF to meet members of the Green Chamber on the Bill.

The Governors are our critical stakeholders in nation-building, and we understand the importance of working with our Governors at critical moments such as this pandemic period.

The House also wishes to state that the NGF is free to make its position on the Bill known through a memorandum during the planned public hearing or send its representative or representatives to appear in person.

To date, no single Governor has called the Speaker or anyone in leadership to express his views. It is our belief that there are better channels of communication available to the NGF to address the leadership of the house instead of the pages of newspapers.

The House is also concerned that the presence of the Sokoto State Governor in the NGF’s consultative panel may not guarantee a smooth interface, since in his capacity as a former Speaker he could not guide the Forum appropriately on the matter, and he appeared to have already taken a biased position.

Thus, the House calls on the NGF to review the membership of the consultative committee so as to achieve the desired objectives with the unbiased members during their engagement with the leadership of the House.

It is instructive to note that the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended) in Section 60 gives the House the powers to regulate its legislative activities, and the House would not shy away from that.

Members of the 9th Assembly are united irrespective of party affiliation and will continue to do those things that will promote good governance, unity, and progress of our country.

Signed:

Rep. Benjamin Kalu

Official Spokesperson

Chairman, House Committee on Media.

Two Brazil Governors Test Positive For Coronavirus

 

Two Brazilian state governors who have criticized President Jair Bolsonaro’s calls to relax COVID-19 containment measures said Tuesday they had tested positive for the new coronavirus.

Governors Wilson Witzel of Rio de Janeiro and Helder Barbalho of the northern state of Para both posted videos to Twitter announcing their diagnoses and urging people to stay home to fight the spread of the virus.

Witzel, a leading proponent of closing non-essential businesses and ordering people to stay home, said he had started feeling unwell Friday, with a fever, sore throat and loss of smell, a key symptom of the virus.

“Today, the test result came back positive… Now, thank God, I’m feeling better, and will continue working while following my doctors’ advice,” said Witzel, 52.

“I ask you once again to stay home, because this disease, as everyone can see, spreads quickly and doesn’t spare anyone.”

Barbalho, 40, who said he was asymptomatic, made a similar appeal.

“This virus is extremely contagious, it doesn’t recognize age or class. Everyone is exposed. So please stay home,” he said.

READ ALSO: South Koreans Head To Polls Despite Global Pandemic

Social distancing policies have been attacked by Bolsonaro, who accuses them of needlessly wrecking Latin America’s biggest economy over a disease the far-right president has compared to a “little flu.”

Witzel fired back last month that Bolsonaro’s defiance of guidelines from the United Nations and World Health Organization could be considered a “crime against humanity.”

Brazil, the Latin American country hit hardest by the pandemic, has registered 1,532 deaths so far.

AFP

South East Governors To Launch Regional Security Outfit

L-R: Deputy Governor of Anambra State, Nkem Okeke; Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi; Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi; and Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, at the Government House in Enugu on February 9, 2020.

 

 

The governors of the South East met on Sunday over the security challenges and other issues in the region.

At the end of the meeting which held at the Government House in Enugu State, the governors resolved to launch a regional security outfit.

They affirmed their commitment towards concluding the establishment of the Joint South East Security Outfit to tackle the daunting security challenges in the region.

The chairman of the South East Governors’ Forum and Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi, disclosed this to reporters after the first meeting of the forum in the year 2020.

He said the leaders have written the Federal Government in this regard and were equally satisfied with the arrangement that would lead to the enactment of the law to back up the programme in all Houses of Assembly across the region.

 

Governor Umahi, however, said they have yet to choose a name for the security outfit, adding that would come later.

To other issues, the governors were pleased with the level of work done at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport in Enugu.

They noted that the airport would be reopened on March 31 and also commended the progress made so far in the construction of the Second Niger Bridge and some Federal Roads in the region.

The governors thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for the swift intervention of the Federal Government and called for more funding to conclude the ongoing works and incorporate other abandoned road sections in the South East.

 

The meeting was attended by the Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi; Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, and the Deputy Governor of Anambra State, Nkem Okeke.

Also present were the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, and former vice presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Peter Obi.

The meeting was also attended by some leaders in the region such as the President General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, John Nwodo, and some members of the sociocultural groups, as well as religious leaders among others.

SERAP Asks Court To Order Buhari, Osinbajo, 36 Governors To Publish Their Assets

SERAP Threatens To Sue UI, AAUA Over Increased Fees

 

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit asking the Federal High Court in Abuja to order President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice-President Professor Yemi Osinbajo, the 36 state governors and their deputies to “make public details of their assets, specifically property and income, contained in their asset declaration forms submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) since assuming office.”

According to a statement signed by the agency’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, it is also seeking: “an order to compel President Buhari, Vice-President Osinbajo, 36 state governors and their deputies to disclose whether they have received any confirmation of the verification of their asset declarations by the CCB and to disclose whether they have taken any steps to encourage members of their cabinet to also submit their asset declarations to the CCB, and to make such declarations public.”

The agency believes that the non-public disclosure by public officials of their summary of assets undermines the effectiveness and integrity of the constitutional and statutory obligations to submit asset declarations, “especially given that declarations are designed to curb grand corruption”.

SERAP further stated that only two states— Lagos and Niger state, have responded to its Freedom of Information (FoI) requests.

However, it says both states declined the request to make public the assets of their governors and deputies, on the ground that “the FoI Act is inapplicable to state governments, their agencies and officials, and that only Houses of Assembly of states are constitutionally empowered to make laws on public records of states.”

Also reacting to the FOI request, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, was quoted to have said: “SERAP asking the president to declare publicly, on the basis of what law? The president will do what the law requires of him and what the law requires is that he should declare his asset which he has done.

“Declaring publicly is not in our laws; it can only be a voluntary thing”.

SERAP, therefore, stated that it is seeking “a declaration that the failure of President Buhari, Vice-President Osinbajo, 36 state governors and their deputies to provide the requested information on their assets constitutes a breach of SERAP’s right under the FoI Act, 2011.

Fulfil Your Campaign Promises, Buhari Tells APC Governors

A file photo of President Muhammadu Buhari.

 

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has asked governors of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to focus on fulfilling their campaign promises to the people of their states.

He gave the charge in a statement on Friday by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu.

The President congratulated the governors on their Supreme Court victories, after what he called “your patient legal battles to defend your mandates.”

“I am pleased and proud that you have successfully concluded your legal battles, and now is the time to concentrate fully on fulfilling your campaign promises after the distractions caused by the litigations,” he said.

READ ALSO: Man Climbs Mast To Commit Suicide, Seeks TB Joshua’s Intervention

President Buhari was happy that one of the great things about democracy was that it gives the aggrieved avenues for redress through the courts.

He, therefore, commended the governors for using the opportunity to defend their mandates following the March 9 polls.

The President advised the governors not to see their challengers as enemies, saying they were only exercising their democratic rights by going to the courts to seek redress.

He also reminded the APC governors that there are still challenges ahead and asked them to brace up.

“With the legal battle now over, it is my hope that you won’t rest on your oars,” he said.

President Buhari added, “You should work ever harder to deliver good governance in the next remaining four years of your tenure.

“I wish you God’s guidance, more wisdom and good health in the performance of your exalted responsibilities.”

Corruption: 22 Ex-Governors Facing Probe, Trial – Malami

The Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami, addressing reporters in Abuja on December 19, 2019.

 

 

At least 22 former governors are either being investigated by the Federal Government or already standing trial in various courts.

The Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami, announced this on Thursday at a press conference in Abuja.

“We have three former governors convicted and serving various jail terms for corruption-related crimes while in office. Equally, 22 ex-governors are either under probe or trial,” he said.

READ ALSO: EFCC Detains Adoke Over Malabu Oil Scandal

Malami stressed that the government was more than resolved to nip corruption in the bud and return all of Nigeria’s commonwealth.

According to him, the Federal Government has won no fewer than 1,636 cases through the agencies championing its anti-corruption drive in the last four years.

The Minister affirmed that the government was committed to seeing the cases of corruption to a logical conclusion.

He stated, “Our fight against corruption is total, comprehensive and dispassionate, devoid of any political or any sentiment or inclination.

“One of the multiple institutions involved in the fight against corruption, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), was able to from 2015 to September 2019 convict 1,636 persons involved in corruption-related offences.”

“It might interest you to note that former state governors and even serving senators are not spared.

“Currently, high-profile personalities including judicial officers and former governors indicated for corruption have been prosecuted and sentenced to jail,” Malami added.