Abuja – The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) has urged the National Assembly to stepdown the proposed Control of Infectious Diseases Bill 2020, pending wider consultations.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Bill was introduced by the House of Representatives.
Reacting to the development, the NGF advised the lawmakers to stay action until an appropriate consultative process was held.
The 36 states governors made the call in a communiqué issued at the end of the forum’s 8th teleconference meeting held on Wednesday on the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
The communiqué, which was made available to newsmen in Abuja on Thursday, was signed by the Forum Chairman and Governor of Ekiti , Dr Kayode Fayemi.
“Following an update from the Governor of Sokoto State and NGF Vice Chairman, Aminu Tambuwal, on the proposed bill, the governors raised concern over the lack of consultation with state governments who were at the forefront of the pandemic.
“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 the 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 bill.
“The NGF Secretariat was also mandated to comprehensively review the bill and its implication on states,” it stated.
The forum also expressed concerns over the rising number of Coronavirus cases in the country which reached 4,787 as at May 12, based on an update from the Presidential Taskforce (PTF) on COVID-19.
The governors noted that the worrying trend urgently called for additional measures by state governors to ramp up capacity for testing and increase the availability of isolation beds to at least 300 per state.
They added that the trend also called for measures by governors to 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.
The NGF noted that in line with the commitment made by the forum to intensify public-private collaboration for the delivery of palliatives from the private sector, they were making warehouses available for the delivery of palliatives.
The forum noted that the governors had appointed state coordinators who would be responsible for the receipt and distribution of palliatives to vulnerable persons.
It stated that the governors were briefed by the Forum Chairman on existing coordination activities with the PTF on COVID-19, multilateral and bilateral partners, and the private sector through the Coalition against COVID-19 (CACOVID).
It disclosed that the forum was coordinating an additional response with the support of the Dangote Foundation to set up a volunteer workforce of health personnel who would be trained and deployed to strengthen the availability of health workers for states in critical need.
The volunteer work force, according to the forum, is in addition to ongoing activities aimed at strengthening the public health response and the delivery of palliatives to vulnerable persons.
It disclosed that the governors set up two committees to interface with the Federal Government on the next Medium-term National Development Plan, as well to steer the activities of the NGF-NESG Economic Roundtable (NNER), respectively.
The forum said that it had followed with interest, the development of the 12-month Economic Sustainability Plan by the federal government, which was 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 states was established to steer the activities of the NGF-NESG Economic Roundtable (NNER).”
NNER is a sub-national platform of the NGF and the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, created to promote sub-national competitiveness through public-private collaboration.
“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.
“The initiative is 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,” it further stated.
The 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.
This, according the the them, followed an update from the Governor of Edo, Godwin Obaseki, on the operation of the World Bank States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) project which was supporting a strong pro-poor fiscal response to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It added that to fast-track the deployment of e-procurement across states, the forum would be adopting a Software as a Service (SaaS) model with the Kaduna state government providing the framework agreement that other states could leverage on.
The governors noted the rising trend of deductions from revenues accruals to the federation account, available for distribution to the three tiers of government, and the threat it posed on the fiscal capacity of states to respond to the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Members also raised concern about the ownership and distribution of proceeds from recovered looted funds and accounts or investments funded as 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,” it stated.
The forum congratulated the newly appointed Chief of Staff (CoS) to President Muhammadu Buhari, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, and looked forward to a fruitful partnership that would support the development of the country.