By Emmanuel Oloniruha
The governors disclosed this in a communique issued at the end of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), the 25th teleconference meeting held on Wednesday in Abuja.
The communique of the second virtual meeting in the year issued by NGF Chairman and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, was made available to newsmen on Thursday.
The consensus, according to the communique, was reached following an update from governors on the various initiatives taken by state governments to address the rising insecurity in the country due to the activities of herdsmen.
It stated that state governments were encouraged to put in place systems to accelerate the grazing initiative of the National Livestock Transformation Plan and ranching in the country.
“The Forum respects the right of abode of all Nigerians and strongly condemns criminality and the ethnic profiling of crime in the country in an effort to frame the widespread banditry and the herders-farmers crisis.
“In the light of the economic and security risks that have arisen from these circumstances, the Forum resolved to urgently convene an emergency meeting of all governors.”
It quoted the Chairman, Northern States Governors’ Forum (NSGF) and Governor of Plateau State, Mr Simon Lalong, as cautioning against the tagging of ethnic groups based on the misbehavior of a few criminally-minded individuals.
Lalong called on State governors to address the matter head-on in their various States.
The communique noted that the governors also discussed the current conversation on the COVID-19 pandemic, with focused on making vaccines available as soon as possible to Nigerians.
It quoted Fayemi as calling on all relevant agencies and public-spirited organizations involved in the procurement of vaccines to work amicably to ensure that the vaccines arrive the country quickly.
Fayemi announced that the governors would shortly inaugurate an advisory group of experts to provide high-level strategic guidance and support to the NGF.
This, according to him, would be on the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines in the short time and the local production of vaccines in the medium to long term.
The communique also disclosed that the Forum was also engaging directly with the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) to ensure that vaccines were administered equitably, first to workers who are on the frontline of the pandemic.
It noted that the forum also deliberated on the underutilization of fiscal facilities in the country, including the Universal Basic Education (UBE) Fund, the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) and the Saving One Million Lives programme for results (SOML).
The facilities are meant to expand the size and scope of resources spent on health and education across all States.
“The Forum recognises that the timely implementation of these facilities in line with the financing plans of States is vital.
“It is vital to ensure expenditure coherence and the sustainability for several projects on primary health care and basic education implemented at the State-level, especially during this period of the COVID-19 pandemic where the demand for government intervention has been heightened.”
It noted that on the Saving One Million Lives (SOML) performance for results project, Fayemi announced that it was resolved to distribute the outstanding funds equally among all states and the FCT under the Disbursement Linked Indicators (DLI 1, 2).
The agreement, according to Fayemi, was reached by the Federal Ministry of Health, the Commissioners for Health Forum and the World Bank.
“On the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF), the NGF Chairman expressed concern over the delay in the payment of funds to the three pilot BHCPF States of Abia, Niger and Osun.
“He urged the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) and the World Bank (WB) to urgently disburse the funds to these States using the original BHCPF Guidelines for States.”
Fayemi, according to the communique, also drew the attention of the governors to the letter from the Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC) requesting States to submit details of work done at the subnational level on lifting people out of poverty.
“This information will help the Council in developing a poverty reduction strategy/plan at the national level”, adding that States were expected to submit these on or Feb. 26.
Other issues discussed, according to the communique, was the States’ Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) performance for result programme.
It noted that Fayemi briefed the forum on emerging concerns with the Independent Verification Agent (IVA) following the nomination of a new Auditor General for the Federation.
Fayemi assured NGF members that the Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, who doubles as the Chairman of the NGF SFTAS Committee, was working with relevant stakeholders to engender a final resolution.
This, according to Fayemi, includes resolution that would sustain the momentum and quality service delivered by the IVA on the programme so far.
“State Governors were encouraged to sustain high-level support for the SFTAS programme, promote an incentivised environment for participating Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) as well as State officials.
“They were also advised to leverage existing technical assistance on the programme and implement in full and not in part the SFTAS verification protocols for the annual eligibility criteria and Disbursement Linked Results (DLRs).”
On the operations of SFTAS, Obaseki called on members to further strengthen the institutional capacity of the NGF Secretariat to become a stronger resource and policy centre for the provision of technical assistance to States.
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