Infectious Diseases Bill Should Be Stepped Down – NGF

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

 

 

More criticisms have continued to trail the controversial Control of Infectious Diseases Bill introduced in the House of Representatives.

This time, the governors of the 36 states of the Federation have demanded that the bill be stepped down until all necessary procedures were followed.

The call to step down the bill formed part of the resolutions of the governors after the eighth teleconference meeting of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) which held on Wednesday.

In a statement by the NGF Chairman and Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, the governors noted that a bill of such nature needed proper consultation to gather the pulse of the public before its introduction into the chambers of the National Assembly.

READ ALSO: Recovered COVID-19 Patients In Nigeria Surpass 1,000

They, therefore, set up a committee comprising the Governors of Katsina, Sokoto, and Plateau States – Aminu Masari, Aminu Tambuwal, and Simon Lalong, to lead a meeting with the leadership of the National Assembly on the proposed bill.

The governors also directed the NGF Secretariat to comprehensively review the bill and its implication on states.

They also raised serious concern about the effects that the regular deductions from revenues accruable to states would have on their capacity to effectively respond to the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The NGF, therefore, resolved to review the 2020 budget and amend procurement guidelines to support e-procurement, as a way to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on states’ resources.

Read the full text of the statement issued at the end of the NGF teleconference meeting below:

We, members of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), at our meeting held today deliberated on the COVID-19 pandemic in the country and resolved as follows:

The NGF Chairman briefed State Governors on existing coordination activities with the Presidential Taskforce (PTF) on COVID-19, multilateral and bilateral partners, and the private sector through the Coalition against COVID-19 (CACOVID).

In addition to ongoing activities aimed at strengthening the public health response and the delivery of palliatives to vulnerable persons, the Forum is coordinating an additional response with the support of the Dangote Foundation to set up a volunteer workforce of health personnel who will be trained and deployed to strengthen the availability of health workers in States in critical need.

The Forum is concerned with the rising number of coronavirus cases in the country which reached 4,787 as of 12th May 2020 based on an update from the Presidential Taskforce (PTF) on COVID-19.

The worrying trend urgently calls for additional measures by State Governors to ramp up capacity for testing, increase the availability of isolation beds to at least 300 per State, accelerate the procurement of additional personal protective equipment (PPE) and training for health workers, as well as the continued enforcement of interstate restriction of movement.

In line with the commitment made by the Forum to intensify public-private collaboration for the delivery of palliatives from the private sector, Governors are making warehouses available for the delivery of palliatives and have appointed State Coordinators who will be responsible for the receipt and distribution of palliatives to vulnerable persons.

Following an update from the Governor of Sokoto State and Vice Chairman of the NGF, H.E 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 Forum 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.

In light of this, the Forum established a Committee comprising the Governors of Katsina, Sokoto, and Plateau to lead a consultative meeting with the leadership of the National Assembly on the proposed Control of Infectious Diseases Bill, 2020.

The NGF Secretariat was also mandated to comprehensively review the Bill and its implication on States.

The Forum received a briefing from the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari, on the Oil and Gas Industry Intervention Initiative on COVID-19, set up by oil and gas operators to provide medical consumables to States, deploy logistics and in-patient support systems, and deliver permanent medical infrastructure across the six geopolitical zones.

Governors commended NNPC for leading the industry to take the initiative and advised the group to prioritise interventions that will boost the country’s testing capacity and the capacity of health workers who are at the frontline of the epidemic.

Following an update from the Governor of Edo State, H.E Godwin Obaseki on the operation of the World Bank States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) project which is supporting a strong pro-poor fiscal response to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, State Governors agreed to take additional measures to strengthen their public financial management systems, including a revision of their 2020 budgets and the amendment of State procurement guidelines to support e-procurement and the participation of small and medium-sized enterprises.

To fast-track the deployment of e-procurement across States, the Forum will be adopting a Software as a Service (SaaS) model with the Kaduna State government providing the framework agreement that other States can leverage on.

Following an update on the rising trend of deductions from revenues accruable to the Federation Account available for distribution to the three tiers of government, the Governors noted the threat this poses on the fiscal capacity of States to respond to the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic. Members also raised concerns about the ownership and distribution of proceeds from recovered looted funds and accounts or investments funded as the first-line charge from the Federation Account.

The Forum agreed to engage with the Federal Government to ensure that the governance arrangement of all federation-funded investments recognise State governments as shareholders in the distribution of proceeds and decision making.

The Forum has followed with interest, the development of the 12-month Economic Sustainability Plan by the Federal Government, which is designed to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

In the spirit of developing a truly coordinated national response to the crisis, Governors expressed the importance of greater consultation and collaboration between the federal and state governments on development planning.

A Committee was consequently set up to interface with the Federal Government on the next Medium-term National Development Plan.

The Committee is made up of the Governors of Bauchi, Plateau, Kebbi, Akwa Ibom, Abia, and Ekiti.

A Second Committee comprising the Governors of Gombe, Nasarawa, Delta, Ebonyi, Oyo, and Kaduna was established to steer the activities of the NGF-NESG Economic Roundtable (NNER) – a sub-national platform of the NGF and the Nigerian Economic Summit Group created to promote sub-national competitiveness through public-private collaboration.

Finally, the Forum congratulated the newly appointed Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Professor Ibrahim Gambari.

The Forum wishes him well and looks forward to a fruitful partnership that will support the development of the country.

Governor Kayode Fayemi

Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum

13th May 2020

Buhari’s $30bn Loan Request: Final Decision Rests On Executive, Legislative Arms – NGF

The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) says the final decision about granting President Muhammadu Buhari’s request to borrow $30billion rests on the executive and legislative arm.

Speaking to journalists after a meeting in Abuja on Wednesday, the Chairman of the Forum and Governor of Ekiti State, Mr Kayode Fayemi said the NGF does not come into the picture in the matter.

READ ALSO: 2020 Budget: Senate Approves N140.3bn For NCC

According to Fayemi, the loan request lies solely between the Federal Government and the National Assembly.

“The borrowing plan is a Federal Government borrowing plan, not the Federation borrowing plan. The Federal Government’s borrowing plan to the National Assembly is really a matter between the Federal Government and the National Assembly.

“It is not something that we want to put ourselves in-between,” Fayemi said.

Speaking concerning the issue of the implementation of the new minimum wage and its consequential adjustments in the states, the governors insist that the organised labour have no reason to give states that are yet to conclude the adjustment negotiations with their workers, December 30 notice for strike.

He added that every member of the forum is determined to continue negotiations based on the economic realities of each state.

The NGF also restated commitment to showcase the country’s business opportunities at the UK-Africa investment summit in 2020 as members hope to woo UK investors to invest in agriculture, manufacturing and the financial services sector.

Bailout Fund: Nigerian Governors Ready To Repay Loans, Says Fayemi

NGF Chairman, Kayode Fayemi

 

The Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) says its members are ready to commence payment of the N614 billion bailout funds which the Federal Government gave to some states during 2015 to 2017 financial crisis.

Chairman of the forum and governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi in a meeting in Abuja explained that although the governors are ready to pay, this will happen only after accounts reconciliation with the Federal Government.

According to him, the reconciliation process is ongoing and states that are owing are eager to make repayments once the process is over.

READ ALSO: EFCC Arraigns Suspects Involved In P&ID Deal

“It’s a storm in a teacup when we read about governors refusing to pay. We don’t have such an issue. We are ready to pay.

“If you borrow, you pay. Governors have never been averse to payment of loans that we took under legal environment and we don’t want a situation that will put our financial system in jeopardy.

“Just as we are ready to pay, we also have a duty to ensure recompilation of accounts as far as money owed to states may be concerned,” he said.

The forum also pledged to give further support to the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) in order to stabilise electricity supply.

Fayemi Elected As Chairman Of Nigeria Governors Forum

 

The Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, has been elected as the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum.

Fayemi was chosen by a consensus after he was nominated by Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai, with Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa seconding his nomination.

The Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal will act as Fayemi’s deputy in the governor’s forum.

The announcement was made on Tuesday night by the Zamfara State Governor, Abdulaziz Yari who is also the outgoing chairman of the NGF.

While thanking the governors for the trust vested on him, Fayemi promised to work for the overall interest of Nigerians.

 

We Don’t Have The Ability To Pay N30,000 Minimum Wage – NGF

The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) on Wednesday said they do not have the ability to pay workers a minimum wage of N30,000.

According to them, the N30,000 minimum wage proposal to President Muhammadu Buhari by the tripartite committee is not feasible.

The governors disclosed this at their emergency meeting in Abuja on Wednesday night. They also asked the Federal Government to accede to the review of the national revenue allocation formula.

READ ALSO: Again, Reps Adjourn Sitting Over Poor Sound System

The chairman of the NGF, who is also the Governor of Zamfara State, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari told journalists after the meeting that the states lack the capacity to pay the new wage structure.

“We have seen what has been presented to the President by the (Tripartite) Committee. As a member of the committee, our representative there said the committee did not take our submission of N22,500 because it came late.

“I am surprised. How can you do this without the input of the states because the states are the key stakeholders in this business.

“So, a situation whereby our report was not taken or considered by the Tripartite Committee, then I don’t know how the committee wants us to work.

“We want to pay, but the issue is the ability to pay.

“If we say no, it is not about the ability to pay, just pay, I don’t know how this formula will work and I don’t know how we can get a solution to the issue,” he said.

Yari, who read the communiqué after the meeting, said that a new committee would be raised to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari over the matter.

Governors Agree To Pay N22,500 As New Minimum Wage

Governors Agree To N22,500 As New Minimum Wage
Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Governor Abdul’Aziz Yari (Zamfara State), addressing a press conference in Abuja on June 28, 2018.

 

The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) has agreed to pay the sum of N22, 500 as new minimum wage for workers, as against the existing N18,000.

Chairman of the Forum and Zamfara State Governor, Abdul’Aziz Yari, disclosed this in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja.

He explained that the decision followed an emergency meeting of the governors where they deliberated on the new minimum wage after a briefing from the forum’s representatives at the Tripartite Committee.

The governor noted that the welfare of the people was the ultimate concern for the forum, lamenting the deteriorating economic situation experienced by the vulnerable segment of the populace.

Before agreeing to a figure, he explained that the governors considered the stride of development in their states, particularly in health, education and infrastructure.

Governor Yari added that the meeting did not take a position that would only reflect a figure, but also a sustainable strategy based on the ability and capacity of the states to pay.

The organised labour had demanded N30,000 as new minimum wage but the NGF said most of its members do not have the capacity to pay the sum.

As series of negotiations and meetings between the government and labour leaders ended in a deadlock, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) threatened to embark on a fresh nationwide strike on November 6.

The unions explained that the decision was necessary following what they described as the government’s unwillingness to implement a new minimum wage for workers in the country.

This, among other things, led to a meeting of the NGF with the Federal Government, presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

The meeting had also ended inconclusively, prompting an emergency meeting of the state governors today.

 

Read the full statement below

Following a meeting of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum where we deliberated on the National Minimum Wage after a briefing from our representatives at the Tripartite Committee, we submit as follows:

The welfare of all Nigerians is our ultimate concern. In all our States, we are concerned about the deteriorating economic situation experienced by the vulnerable segment of our population.

In agreeing to a National Minimum Wage, however, the Forum is even more concerned about development, particularly in the health, education and infrastructure spheres.

It is, therefore, our considered position that since the percentage of salaried workers is not more than five per cent of the total working population, our position must not just reflect a figure, but also a sustainable strategy based on ability and capacity to pay, as well as reflective of all our developmental needs in each State.

Afterall, Section 3 of the National Salaries Income and Wages Commission Act provides that “the Commission shall recommend a proposition of income growth which should be initiated for wage increase and also examined the salary structure in public and private sector with reasonable features of relativity and maximum levels which are in consonance with the national economy.”

It is in this sense that we feel strongly that our acceptable minimum wage must be done in such a way that total personnel cost does not exceed 50 per cent of the revenue available to each State.

Governors, therefore, agreed to pay a national minimum wage of N22,500.

Governor Abdul’Aziz Yari Abubakar

Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum

Governors Condemn Plateau Killings, Seek ‘Holistic Solution’ To Insecurity

 

The Nigeria Governors’ Forum has condemned the attack on some villages in Plateau State which left at least 100 people killed and many others displaced.

Chairman of the forum, Governor Abdul’Aziz Yari (Zamfara State), made the position of the governors known on Thursday at a press conference in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

READ ALSO: ‘The Nation Is Dying’: Soyinka Asks Buhari To Take Immediate Action Against Murderous Herdsmen

He said the killings formed the major discussion when members of the forum met for about five hours where they decried the spate of the insecurity in the country.

Governor Yari revealed that the governors sympathised with the victims, people and government of Plateau, as well as other states that have experienced similar incidents.

Read the resolutions to the meeting, he said, “The governors have unanimously called for the prosecution of perpetrators of the attack and resolve to find a quick and common solution to the security crisis in the country.

“The forum resolves to pay a condolence visit to Plateau state to commensurate with the government and people of Plateau State.”

According to Yari, the forum also decided to convene a day meeting with the security chiefs to come up with a “holistic solution to the country’s security situation”.

‘We Cannot Continue To Tolerate Killings’ – Saraki, Dogara Call For Collective Effort

Governors at the meeting include Dave Umahi (Ebonyi), Akinwunmi Ambode (Lagos), Mohammed Abubakar (Jigawa), Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta), and Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia).

Others are Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), Rauf Aregbesola (Osun), Abubakar Bagudu (Kebbi), Mohammed Abubakar (Bauchi), among other governors.

The governors met barely one day after the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, held a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari over the same issues.

President Muhammadu Buhari with Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, during a meeting at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on June 27, 2018.

 

The National Assembly leaders had after the meeting said that Nigeria can no longer condone the repeated killings of innocent citizens.

Although the police authorities in Plateau maintained that 100 people were killed when suspected herdsmen attacked the villages, conflicting figures have continued to trail the death toll.

President Buhari had paid a condolence visit to the state on Tuesday where he met with the traditional rulers, religious leaders, representatives of youth, women and trade union groups among other stakeholders in the state.

He had directed the security chiefs to be vigilant and ensure that the lives and property of the people were protected.

The President also appealed to Nigerians to live in peace with one another and avoid inflammatory utterances that can promote conflicts.

Governors’ Forum To Meet With Service Chiefs Over Killings

 

The Nigeria Governors’ Forum is planning to meet with the service chiefs over the spate of killings in some parts of the country.

Chairman of the forum and Zamfara State Governor, Abdul’Aziz Yari, disclosed this to reporters on Thursday after the governors met behind closed-door in Abuja.

READ ALSO: ‘The Nation Is Dying’: Soyinka Asks Buhari To Take Immediate Action Against Murderous Herdsmen

According to him, the meeting with the security chiefs is to come up with the holistic solution to the security challenges in the country.

NGF Condemns Plateau Killings, Seeks ‘Holistic Solution’ To Insecurity
Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Governor Abdul’Aziz Yari (Zamfara State), addressing a press conference in Abuja on June 28, 2018.

 

The governor said, “The forum strongly condemns the recent attack in Plateau State and the spate of the insecurity in the country. Members commiserate with the government and people of Plateau State and other states, including the victims who were caught in the conflicts.

“The governors have unanimously called for the prosecution of perpetrators of the attack and resolve to find a quick and common solution to the security crisis in the country. The forum resolves to pay a condolence visit to Plateau state to commensurate with the government and people of Plateau State,” he added.

‘We Cannot Continue To Tolerate Killings’ – Saraki, Dogara Call For Collective Effort

Governor Yari informed reporters that the issues of minimum wage and stamp duty also formed part of the discussed at the meeting.

While the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) is proposing a minimum wage of N65,000 for workers, the governors have insisted on the staggering of the implementation of the new wage if approved.

Governors at the meeting include Dave Umahi (Ebonyi), Akinwunmi Ambode (Lagos), Mohammed Abubakar (Jigawa), Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta), and Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia).

Others are Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), Rauf Aregbesola (Osun), Abubakar Bagudu (Kebbi), Mohammed Abubakar (Bauchi), among other governors.

Court Orders Forfeiture Of N1.4bn Linked To Alleged Impersonators Of NGF Consultants

Court Orders Forfeiture Of N1.4bn Allegedly Impersonated By Consultants To Gov’s Forum
File photo

 

The Federal High Court in Lagos on Friday ordered the permanent forfeiture of a total of N1,442,384,857.84 found in the bank accounts of three firms.

The firms were alleged to have impersonated the consultants engaged by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) to analyse the Paris/London Club loan refunds due to the states of the Federation.

The court gave the ruling following the forfeiture order obtained by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The anti-graft agency claimed that the defendants obtained N3.5bn from the Governors’ Forum by making false claims.

Listed as defendants in the final forfeiture application filed before the court were Melrose General Services Limited; WASP Networks Limited; and Thebe Wellness Services.

The firms were accused of impersonating a consortium of consulting firms engaged by the Governors’ Forum for the “Verification, reconciliation and recovery of over-deductions on Paris and London Club loans on the accounts of states and local governments between 1995 and 2002.”

The EFCC said the original firms engaged by the Forum were GSCL Consulting and Bizplus Consulting Services Limited.

An investigator with the commission, Mr Usman Zakari, however, said the alter ego of the first defendant, Melrose General Services Limited, Robert Mbonu, made a false representation to the Forum, causing the Forum to pay N3.5bn to his company on December 14, 2016.

Zakari said the money was credited into the bank account of Melrose General Services Limited, adding that the respondents dissipated and laundered about N2.3billion out of the money between December 15, 2016, and January 20, 2017, leaving a balance of N1.2bn.

He also informed the court that the anti-graft agency had recovered N220m out of the laundered sum from the second and third respondents.

The EFCC had on October 13, 2017, obtained an interim order from Justice Mojisola Olatoregun, placing a “Post No Debit” order on the accounts containing the N1.2bn and N220m.

The judge had made the order following a plea by counsel for the EFCC, Ekene Iheanacho, who said it would best serve the interest of justice for the respondents to be ordered to forfeit the N1.4bn temporarily, to prevent them from dissipating same.

The judge, after granting the interim freezing order last year, directed the EFCC to publish the order in a national daily.

She gave anyone interested in the funds 14 days to appear before her to show cause why the funds should not be forfeited permanently.

Subsequently, one Prince Godwin Maduka and Linas International Limited showed up before the court, praying separately that the funds should be forfeited to them.

Maduka claimed that his firm, Udemgaba Maduka & Associates, had been engaged in 2011 as a consultant by Zamfara State government to help the state recover some hanging funds, with an agreement that it would be paid 20 per cent of the recovered funds.

He urged the court to forfeit the N1.4bn to his company to cover Zamfara State’s alleged indebtedness to him.

But the EFCC opposed Maduka, contending that the suit was not a debt recovery suit and that Zamfara State was not a party to the suit.

In a ruling on Friday, Justice Olatoregun upheld the EFCC’s argument and dismissed Maduka’s claims.

On its own part, Linas International Limited said it was entitled to the payment of $6million from the Nigeria Governors’ Forum.

But Justice Olatoregun equally dismissed its claim, holding that the suit was not a debt recovery suit.

Having dismissed both claims, the judge ordered the permanent forfeiture of the N1.4bn to the Federal Government.‎

Ogun Government Restates Commitment To Workers’ Welfare

Ogun-WorkersAs workers get ready to celebrate May Day, the Ogun State government has reassured civil servants of its commitment to their welfare.

This was revealed on Friday in a statement by the state Commissioner of Information and Strategy, Mr Dayo Adeneye.

In fulfillment of its promise to labour leaders, the state government said it was proud to state that in spite of the current financial crunch, it was not owing workers’ salaries.

This followed the announcement of the payment of April salary to all categories of the Ogun State civil servants and pensioners.

Both labour and government in the state had been in continuous negotiations over the issue of outstanding deductions.

In reaction to this, the Ogun State government also announced the payment of part of the outstanding deductions.

In Niger State, the government debunked rumours making the rounds that it was among the Nigerian states owing workers’ salaries.

The government noted that the state was not only up to date in its obligations to workers, it had also ensured that salaries were paid regularly since the inception of the Governor Abubakar Bello led administration.

We Are Not Owing Workers’ Salaries – Niger State

Niger StateThe Niger State government has debunked rumours making the round that it is among Nigerian states that are owing workers’ salaries.

The Chief Press Secretary to Governor of Niger, Jibrin Baba Ndace, said in a press statement on Friday that the rumour making round in the public and published in some section of the media classifying Niger State as one of the states owing workers’ salaries is not true.

He stated that the state is not only up to date in its obligations to workers, it has also ensured that salaries are paid regularly since the assumption of office of Governor Abubakar Sani Bello.

“To set the record straight, on assumption of office on the 29th of May 2015, Governor Bello placed priority attention to the welfare of the entire work force in the state by placing payment of workers’ salaries on the first line charge and by ensuring prompt and regular payment to the civil servants.

“It is on record that despite the lean purse of the state and the dwindling national economy, Niger State Government has not defaulted in her statutory responsibility to its workers.

“Governor Bello has been alive to his responsibilities and is religiously and compassionately keeping his part of the social contract he entered to with the people of the state.”

The CPS further claimed that no administration in the 40-year-old state has enjoyed the high level of industrial harmony, peace and cordiality like that of Governor Bello.

He assured the civil servants that regular and prompt payment of workers’ salaries will continue to be on first line charge, as the state government is committed to ensuring a civil service that is well-motivated for the challenges of the 21st Century.

Governors Ask FG To Review Revenue Sharing Formula

Governors-Nigeria Governors Forum-Revenue Sharing FormulaThe Nigeria Governors Forum on Thursday asked the Federal Government to review the revenue sharing formula.

The governors insisted that what comes to them should be increased, stressing that states were the custodians of the natural resources in Nigeria.

The Chairman of the governors’ forum, Mr Abdullaziz Yari, disclosed this to State House correspondents after their meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on the way out of the economic crunch the states were facing.

Other demands include 18 months moratorium from the Federal Government on the bail out loans and the remitting of what they called ‘hanging funds’ owed them by the Federal Government after Nigeria’s exit from the Paris Club in 2005.

They lamented that a situation where some of them could not pay salaries of workers in their states was so embarrassing.

Beyond the bailout fund, the governors have listed a programme for the Federal Government to restructure the states’ economy in the short, medium and long terms.

According to Governor Yari of Zamfara State, President Buhari was said to have graciously accepted their demands.

He added that the President asked that a committee comprising the Vice President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, and the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, be set up to look into all the matters.