FG approves N13 billion for community policing

•World Bank clears 35 states for $1.5billion COVID-19 relief package

The federal government has approved the sum of N13 billion for the take-off of community policing initiative in the country as part of measures to aimed at containing the insecurity in the country.

Following the approval, the National Economic Council (NEC) at its virtual meeting on Thursday, resolved that the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), and two other governors should meet with the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the Finance Minister and the Inspector General of Police to coordinate the proper utilization of the funding of the initiative.

At the meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, with state governors, Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor and some federal cabinet officials in attendance, the NEC ad-hoc Committee on Security and Policing, had made a presentation on its assignment, noting that engagement with key stakeholders on the operationalization of community policing in the country was in ongoing.

The Council also received reports on the COVID-19 pandemic situation in the country; flood disaster risk management in Nigeria for 2020, and the issue of compensation payments regarding Federal Highway projects across the country.

It emerged from the briefing of the council that the World Bank has cleared 35 states in the country for the $1.5billion stimulus package to cushion the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The plan is part of the World Bank’s package for immediate fiscal relief for Nigeria, following discussion between bank’s Country Director and the Economic Sustainability Committee, chaired by Vice President Osinbajo.

Governor of Nassarawa State, Abdullahi Sule, who briefed State House correspondents on the outcome of the meeting, said that 22 states signed the Grant Agreement (GA)!while 13 are yet to return signed GAs.

According to him, the 22 states that signed GA are Ekiti, Gombe, Zamfara, Sokoto, Niger, Taraba, Oyo, Abia, Enugu, Plateau, Delta, Bauchi, Ebonyi, Kaduna, Kwara, Cross-River, Imo, Yobe, Ondo, Osun, Nasarawa and Benue.

He said of the 22 states, the 16 states that had received N100 million grant each, totalling N1.6billion.

The states include Ekiti, Gombe, Niger, Sokoto, Taraba, Oyo, Abia, Enugu, Zamfara, Bauchi, Ebonyi, Kaduna, Kwara, Cross-River, Imo and Delta.

The next five states on the list for the grant according to him, are Plateau, Yobe, Ondo, Benue and Osun, while Nassarawa State is yet to communicate account details.

Governor Sule said the ad-hoc committee’s report also had the key highlights of the ongoing four weeks guidelines of the extended second 2nd Phase of the eased lockdown.

He said the Presidential Task Force on the COVID19 pandemic had task revealed that the extension was necessitated due to observed lack of compliance with the prescribed measure, dangers associated with community transmission and the need to strengthen critical areas of the response strategy for effectiveness.

The Nasarawa governor added that the committee outlined some outstanding issues, including the resumption date for educational institutions, new protocols for Internally Displaced Persons, resumption of work by all categories of public and civil servants and full reopening of contact sporting activities and recreational facilities.

He affirmed that the meeting reviewed the escalating challenges in the country observed that insecurity could not be fully eradicated without addressing the high poverty rate and unemployment level in Nigeria.

“Council resolved that the Chair of the NGF (Nigeria Governors’ Forum) with two other governors would be meeting with the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the Finance Minister and the Inspector-General of Police to coordinate the proper utilization of the funding of community policing in the states.

“The federal government has already approved N13billion for this same purpose.”

He said that the meeting also observed that the Office of the NSA has not been adequately funded in the last five years to enable it to carry out its mandate effectively.

“State governments have been overwhelmed by insecurity expenditures and there is, therefore, the need by the Federal Government to inject more funds to augment expenses by the states, amongst others,” he stated.

Sule stated further that “the meeting made several observations and came up with a recommendation that would help the government tackle the issue of insecurity in the country.”

He said the work of the Committee is ongoing with key stakeholders and will be meeting as the need arises to update the Council on the progress being made to address insecurity and criminality in the country.

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