The Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) has condemned the Abuja-Kaduna train attack, stating that such violent attacks are becoming too many and it questions their collective capacity to govern.
The governors said this in a statement on Wednesday and described the attack as a horror dream.
“The Kaduna -Abuja train attack on Monday night is a horror dream orchestrated by the wicked merchants of death that we must all wake up from to address.
“This is one attack too many. It must stop. First, as leaders, we owe the victims and their relations an apology as these unwarranted acts of violence are becoming too regular and they basically question our collective capacity to govern,” the NGF said in the statement signed by Chairman, Kayode Fayemi.
They prayed that God would grant those that lost their lives eternal peace and wish those that were injured speedy recovery to resume their lives and put their heartless aggressors to shame.
The governors added that “if the intention of the murderers is to disrupt the peaceful coexistence of Nigerians, they will not succeed and when eventually total peace returns to the country, they will surely either be lifeless or excluded. I can assure you that this is an ugly phase in our national experience. It will certainly pass.”
They also expressed condolences to Nigerians, the Kaduna State government, and the people of Kaduna State.
They applauded the Nigerian security agents for their efforts in coming to the rescue of the victims of the attack.
“We want to salute the bravery of our security forces in curtailing the magnitude of havoc this attack was intended to visit on innocent travelers. Our prayers are with you.
“We would continue to drum our support for the professional work you do and provide assistance in enhancing your operational strength and combat readiness. We recognize the enormous risk you take every day,” the forum said.
They added that those behind the attack will certainly not take over Nigeria.
“Their violent demeanour will not result in anything positive instead it will confine them to an uncomfortable life in the jungle until the long arm of the law catches up with them.”
On a final note, the NGF asked those in authority to immediately install all necessary safeguards to forestall future acts of banditry on our rail tracks, roads, ports, and borders.
The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) has commended the Senate for re-amending the Electoral Act Amendment Bill giving room for direct, indirect, and consensus options for nominating candidates for the various political parties in the country.
The governors said this during their meeting held on Wednesday night in Abuja.
They commended the Senate for amending clause 84 regarding the mode of candidate selection in the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.
They also urged the House of Representatives to do the same by adding the consensus clause.
The state governors also discussed issues as regards the nation’s security challenges, health, food security, among others.
Concerning fuel subsidy removal, they resolved to engage the organized labour on the best approach to take to avoid causing hardship to citizens.
The governors however hold the view that issues regarding fuel subsidy or prices of petroleum products are already provided for in the newly signed Petroleum Industry Act.
They asked that states should ramp up vaccination and other covid 19 management strategies, in view of the Omicron variant.
Governors at the meeting include the NGF Chairman and Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi; Kano State Governor Abdullahi Ganduje; Nasarawa Governor Abdullahi Sule; Anambra Governor Willie Obiano; Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde and Osun State Governor Gboyeba Oyetola.
Also at the meeting are Deputy Governors of Gombe; Yobe; Enugu; Bauchi; Lagos; Ondo; Benue; Katsina; Rivers; and Kogi.
The Nigerian Senate on Tuesday rescinded its decision on making direct primaries the only method of electing candidates by political parties.
The decision was taken a few days after President Muhammadu Buhari said he was ready to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill after the National Assembly makes the necessary adjustments.
The direct primary clause had earlier hindered the assent to the bill, however, the President in an exclusive interview with Channels Television said that he was willing to sign if only the legislators will effect changes which must include the addition of consensus candidates and indirect primary options to the mode of selecting a candidate for an election.
Senate Leader, Senator Yahaya Abubakar (Kebbi North) during plenary on Wednesday explained that the motion for re-committal of the bill to the Committee, on the Whole, was against the backdrop of the “need to address the observation by Mr. President C-in-C and make necessary amendment in accordance with Order 87(c) of the Senate Standing Orders, 2022 (as amended); and relying on order 1(b) and 52(6) of the Senate Standing Orders, 2022 (as amended).”
Accordingly, the chamber rescinded its decision on the affected Clause of the Bill as passed and recommit same to the Committee of the Whole for consideration and passage.
In the same vein, the House of Representatives today also rescinded its earlier decision on compulsory direct primaries.
However, unlike their counterparts in the Senate, the Reps adopted direct and indirect primaries but expunged the option of consensus candidature.
The Nigeria Governors Forum has reacted to the killing of over 40 rice farmers in Garin Kwashebe in Jere Local Government Area of Borno State describing it as “wicked, unwarranted, and morally reprehensible.”
The governors in a statement signed by its Chairman Kayode Fayemi said the attack brings back ugly memories of several dastardly attacks on soft targets in the state.
“The farmers were attacked while harvesting their produce totally oblivious of the danger that awaits them in nearby bushes. This method is consistent with the senseless bombings of busy markets, bus stations, schools, and abattoirs whenever the terrorists feel overpowered by the security operatives or feel their backs against the wall.
“Governors, under the platform of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), view this attack, like many before it, as obnoxious, wicked, unwarranted, and morally reprehensible,” the statement read in part.
The governors added that this sad narrative raises questions on the general security situation in the country and around the capability of the nation’s security architecture. It also raises questions on whether or not there are adequate arrangements to protect lives and property.
“Since insurgency engulfed the country more than a decade ago, each time it seems like the situation is coming under control, the enemy strikes again. This has happened consistently.”
Governors said they are concerned that the carnage is degenerating beyond explicable limits, yet again, and the catalogue of destruction is not only seeming to be endless and intractable but it has an adverse effect on everything in the state and the country at large.
The NGF, therefore, vowed to collectively review these issues at their next meeting to forge the way forward.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
According to him, the meeting with the security chiefs is to come up with the holistic solution to the security challenges in the country.
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.
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.