Northern Governors Seek More COVID-19 Testing Centres, Ban Almajiri System

The Northern Governors met via teleconference on April 21, 2020.
The Northern Governors met via teleconference on April 21, 2020.

 

Northern state governors on Tuesday called for more COVID-19 testing centres in the north and banned the almajiri system for fear the children could be exposed to the virus.

The Governors met for the second time in one month via teleconferencing, according to a press statement.

The meeting was presided by the Northern States Governors Forum Chairman, Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau state.

According to the statement, Lalong his colleagues that based on their resolution at the last meeting, he had a discussion with President Muhammadu Buhari where he conveyed their concerns on the need for the region to access special funding, palliatives, testing centres and other forms of support to assist the region deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said the President assured him of the support of the Federal Government within the context of Federal Government programmes both under the coronavirus response and under other incentives to farmers and States.

The meeting further discussed the issue of COVID-19 Testing Centres within the Northern Region where it noted some improvement, but again insisted that all States in the region should have at least one centre in order to make the detection of the disease and its management easier and faster.

On border control and lockdown measures, the Northern Governors retained their earlier decision for the states to individually decide on the measure to adopt, but reaffirmed the need for border closures to stop inter-state spread of the disease, which is rising in the region.

The Governors also discussed the risk that Almajiri children are exposed to because of the pandemic.

They unanimously decided to totally ban the Almajiri system and evacuate the children to their parents or states of origin.

They agreed to take a cue from Kano, Kaduna and Nasarawa States who have begun returning Almajiri children to families and states of origin, while those within their States who do not have parents are taken care of by the Government.

They vowed never to allow the system persist any longer because of the social challenges associated with it including the perpetuation of poverty, illiteracy, insecurity and social disorder.

Security tops Jonathan’s meeting with northern governors

President Goodluck Jonathan and governors of the north met last night on security issues. The meeting also had in attendance Vice President Namadi Sambo and some senior aides to the president.

17 governors in the north were present. They include governors Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano), Idris Wada (Kogi), Seidu Dakingari (Kebbi), Babangida Aliyu (Niger), Tanko Al-Makura (Nasarrawa), Patrick Yakowa (Kaduna), Jonah Jang (Plateau), Isa Yuguda (Bauchi), Ibrahim Geidam (Yobe), Kashim Shettima (Borno), Isa Yuguda (Bauchi) and Gabriel Suswam (Benue).

Represented by their deputies were:  Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara), Muritala Nyako (Adamawa), Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara), Ibrahim Dankwambo (Gombe) and Ibrahim Shema (Katsina).

The governors of Taraba and Sokoto states were absent.

The governor of Niger state who spoke to State House correspondents said the agenda was on security, and how to tackle flooding issues in the north.

He said the flooding had drastically affected food production in the North and the meeting deliberated on how to mitigate the disaster.

Aliyu said the meeting also discussed generally on issues of wealth creation, employment generation and measures to  reduce the poverty ratio in the region.

“Generally we discussed a gamut of issues and problems that need to be solved by the Federal, the States, the Local governments and relevant NGOs.

“Poverty and lack of job should not be the foundation for other problems,’’ he said.

Virtually all states in Nigeria are broke…Gov. Aliyu Babangida

The governor of Niger state and former chairman of Governors Forum Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu has revealed that all the state governments in Nigeria are unable to meet all their financial obligations as he called for an urgent review of the revenue sharing formula.

Dr Babangida revealed this in a question and answer interview, published by a financial magazine, Economic Confidential, on Sunday.

Responding to a question on how true it is that states in the northern part of the country are financially broke and cannot meet their statutory functions, the governor replied in the affirmative saying “it is not only states in the Northern part of the country that are not in position to meet all their financial obligations; virtually all states in the Federation apart from probably Lagos and states in the Niger Delta areas are in the same boat.”

“In a nut shell I can say categorically that we don’t have enough resources to meet all our obligations to the people that voted us into office,” he quipped.

According to the governor who is also the Chairman of Northern Governor Forum, the introduction of the N18, 000 minimum wage was the major cause of the financial meltdown.

A number of state governments kicked against the wage, citing that a large chunk of their annual budget will go to payment of civil servant’s salary.

“The situation has been compounded by the introduction of a new minimum wage for workers in all the states of the country irrespective of the fact that we are in a federation and the poor internally generated revenue base of most states after the payment of salaries.”

“Most states have little or nothing to use for other projects” he added.

The governor also claimed that the affected states have been looking for other sources of funds to enable them meet their obligations.

“Some states have gone to the capital market to get money to finance capital projects dear to the people while others recourse to loans from commercial banks” he said.

The governor made a case for the review of revenue allocation, noting that the law that established the formula stated that the sharing formula must be reviewed every decade.

“As the case is now there is too much money at the centre (federal government) so we need to change the position because it is in the states and local government areas that we have the people” explained Dr Aliyu Babangida.

“I will still want the revenue allocation formula to be reviewed if for nothing it has outstayed its usefulness especially when it is the law that it should be reviewed every 10 years” he added.

The governor in the interview also called for a close monitoring of revenue generated from the nation’s oil wealth, noting that the oil wealth is “what most of us depend on.”

“Nobody today can tell you the exact amount of money accruing to the country from oil nobody knows the barrel of oil we exporting and at what cost.”

Referring to the revelations made by the House of Representatives probe into the fuel subsidy, as an eye opener into the apparent rot in the sector, the governor called on the federal government to immediately begin the prosecution of those indicted and ensure that amount illegally got is retrieved and given to all arms of government.