The thirty-six state governors under the platform of Nigeria Governors Forum ( NGF) has resolved to provide leadership to the COVID 19 response in their respective States by ramping up risk communication activities and community testing for COVID-19.
The Forum through its Sub-Committee interfacing with the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 has also resolved to address concerns raised by States on the reception of new inmates amidst measures taken to curtail the spread of COVID-19 across correctional facilities in the country.
The chairman of the Forum, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State stated this in a communique issued at the end of the 16th Teleconference Meeting of the governors held during the week to deliberate on issues affecting the country especially the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Dr Fayemi, the Forum received updates on the status of pending COVID-19 interventions for States. Governors were concerned by the delay in the release of the results of the SMART survey conducted for the Saving One Million Lives Performance for Results (SOML-PforR) Project.
While giving an update during the virtual meeting, the Chairman of the NGF Sub-Committee interfacing with the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Governor Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa of Delta State, highlighted the importance of continued and increased testing in all States as the economy opens.
He called on States to take ownership of the COVID-19 response, especially with the expected winding of the PTF by the end of September 2020. Low testing rates at any time will make it difficult to track the correct status of the pandemic in the country thus making it difficult to make important decisions like opening of schools, NYSC camps, holding elections etc.
The NGF chairman said in the communique “in the light of Rotary’s recognition of the Forum’s role in ending the polio pandemic in the country, governors are called to maintain vigilance to ensure that the structures put in place for routine immunization are not jeopardized by the COVID-19 pandemic”.
“The Forum commended the World Bank for the new initiative to support States in updating their property records. Some States are already in advanced stages of developing a geographic information system (GIS) that will help them gather, manage and analyze geospatial data both for the purpose of spacial planning and property taxation.
“All State governments through their Internal Revenue Services will ensure the seamless implementation of tax relief programmes for businesses and taxpayers. These programmes which were released in some States since March 2020 are designed to reduce the financial burden of taxpayers in the country up till 2021 in some cases” Governor Fayemi noted.
Also during the meeting the state governments were called to nominate focal persons that will interface with the Ministry of Petroleum Resources on the actualization of the National Gas Expansion Programme (NGEP).
Recall that the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva had addressed the Forum in July 2020 on the NGEP which is designed as a catalyst for Nigeria’s vast natural gas reserves. The plan will spur revitalization across gas-based industries in fertilizer, methanol, textiles and feedstock for industries among others.
In addition, the NGF Legal Committee led by the Vice Chairman of the Forum, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto State, updated members on consultations with the Attorney General of the Federation to resolve concerns on the implementation of the Executive Order #10.
A Technical Committee comprising members from all parties has been working to finalize an acceptable framework for the implementation of the Order.