Governors, CACOVID parley on distribution of N23bn palliative to vulnerable citizens

• To present NGF position on security to Buhari shortly

The 36 state governors under the aegis of Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) in collaboration with the private sector-led Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) have concluded arrangements on the distribution of N23 billion palliatives to vulnerable citizens across the country.

Alhaji Aliko Dangote gave an update on the flag-off and distribution of CACOVID palliatives during the 14th teleconference meeting held at the instance of NGF chaired by Governor Kayode Fayemi.

According to the communiqué signed by Governor Fayemi, with the flag-off which started on Tuesday, 4th August 2020 in Borno, Edo, Enugu and Kano States, the launch “is ongoing and will hold daily across one State each in the six geopolitical zones until Tuesday, August 11th 2020 when it will be concluded in all 36 States of the Federation.”

To this end, the Governors resolved that “all COVID-19 Task Forces in the various States will work closely with their Palliatives Implementation Committees to target the most vulnerable population in society for the distribution of the CACOVID palliatives, particularly in local governments that have been identified as epicentres.

“The states will also take cognizance of the possibility of a second wave of COVID-19 infection and should start preparing preventive measures,” the communiqué stated.

In the same vein, the governors after the deliberation over the recent attack on the convoy of Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State and the rapidly degenerating state of security across the country resolved to present the resolutions reached by the NGF to President Muhammadu Buhari shortly.

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The resolution was taken after the NGF Chairman gave an update on the outcome of the meeting held at the instance of NEC Ad-hoc Committee on Security and Policing held on Tuesday with the heads of the nation’s security agencies to discuss and review the security challenges in the country.

To this end, the Forum resolved to partner with the Centre for Values in Leadership (CVL) to organise a Webinar on Governance and Insecurity Challenges in the country, with the view to facilitate an interaction between Governors and the public to shed more light on some of the strategies deployed to tackle insecurity amidst the battle against COVID-19 in Nigeria.

According to the communiqué, the Forum also deliberated on the ongoing negotiation between the NGF and Federal Government to waive the requirement that State Governments provide counterpart funds before they can access Universal Basic Education (UBE) Funds.

“The move was taken in the light of the impact of COVID-19 which has affected the capacity of State governments to provide counterpart funds required to access various national funds and statutory levies.

While giving an update on the NGF’s intervention in the nationwide strike action by the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) in June 2020, the Chairman observed that some of the States Governments still have unresolved issues with the Resident Doctors and enjoined Governors to engage with the state branches of the Association to resolve these disputes. Some of the issues include unpaid salaries for doctors and the non-domestication and non-implementation of the Medical Residency Training Act, 2017.

In the same vein, after the receiving update from the Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba on guidelines for the resumption of schools in the country, the Governors unanimously adopted the Report of the National Economic Council Ad-hoc Committee on COVID-19 chaired by the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo which recommended the immediate suspension of the requirement for State Governments to provide matching funds to access grants like Universal basic Education Commission (UBEC).

The Chairman of the NGF Sub-Committee interfacing with the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Governor Dr Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa of Delta State. Dr Okowa briefed Governors of the measures discussed with the PTF on reopening the economy.

“His update highlighted concerns such as guidelines required to reopen schools; resumption of international flights; the need for increased testing capacity and sample collection centres in all local government areas in the country; disbursement of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund and other health-related facilities; dissemination of guidelines for home care for COVID-19 cases; and the non-availability of re-agents in the country due to its high demand globally.

“The Programme Manager NGF HelpDesk – SFTAS Technical Assistance Project, Olanrewaju Ajogbasile provided an update on the States’ Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and (SFTAS) programme and pending actions for State governments, including the publication of comprehensive audited financial statements by five remaining States and preparations for the 2019 SFTAS Annual Performance Assessment (APA) exercise to be conducted by the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation (OAuGF) starting August 9th 2020.

“In preparation for the 2019 Annual Performance Assessment of the SFTAS programme which is expected to start from 9th August 2020, State governments will ensure appropriate health and security measures are put in place to ensure a seamless exercise by the teams from the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation (OAuGF).

“The NGF Secretariat will provide Technical Assistance to the remaining five States yet to publish their Audited Financial Statement (AFS).

“Lastly, State governments with unresolved issues with their Resident Doctors were enjoined to meet with the Association at least at the local level to agree on workable solutions in the face of the current challenges in the country,” the communiqué read.

NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

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