* 20 LGs account for 50% recorded cases of pandemic
By Chuks Okocha
In an effort to curtail the Covid-19 pandemic in the country, 32 states now have molecular laboratories for the testing of the pandemic.
The revelation was made during a teleconference meeting held Thursday between the 36 governors of the federation.
It was further revealed that 50 per cent of cases of the pandemic occurred only in 20 out of the 774 local governments of the federation.
In a communique signed by the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, the governors resolved to “scale up the implementation of the Risk Communications Community Engagement (RCCE) strategy developed by the Presidential Task on COVID-19.
“The strategy will provide necessary impetus on communicating with the public so that communities can curtail the spread of COVID-19 in a sustainable approach. State governments will also be able to identify and engage with all the relevant multi-sectoral partners as the success of this strategy. Commissioners of information are to head this exercise nationwide”.
According to the communique, the governors also resolved to continue to engage with the federal government on the suspension of state counterpart funds required for accessing the Universal Basic Education (UBE) Fund and the Basic Health Care Provision Fund based on the recommendations of the National Economic Council Ad Hoc Committee on COVID-19 chaired by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.
The governors said that the state governments will continue to provide appropriate support to the independent verification teams from the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation (OAuGF) who are currently in states to conduct the 2019 Annual Performance Assessment for the SFTAS programme.
It was also resolved that the states are to engage the officials of the Nigeria Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) in order to forestall their intention to embark on an industrial action.
The governors said that discussions are ongoing with the federal government through the Ministry of Education to facilitate access to unrealized funds from the UBE Fund.
The governors, the communique stated, are also awaiting an advisory from the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) on the call for a waiver on counterpart funds from states in the light of the impact of the COVID-19 on state finances.
However, it said that 29 states have received funding from the Regional Disease Surveillance Systems Enhancement (REDISSE) project to strengthen their public health response to COVID-19, adding that testing remains the number one priority for the government.
It therefore said that 32 states in the country now have molecular laboratories, while investments are being directed to the remaining four states.
Also, the communique said: “Data from COVID-19 tests conducted in the country show that 20 local government areas in the country account for 50 per cent of the COVID-19 cases recorded. In the light of this, all state governments will be required to scale up risk communications campaigns in these areas through state and local structures.”
According to the National Economic Council (NEC) Security Ad Hoc Committee comprising the governors of Ekiti, Katsina, Borno, Bayelsa, Ebonyi, Kogi and Lagos, the council met with President Muhammadu Buhari on August 11, 2020 to present the concerns of the governors on the security situation in the country.
It further said: “At the meeting, the president called for better inter-service coordination and assured governors that necessary security equipment were being provided to the security agencies.”
The communique also stated that the Forum also received updates from the Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, who’s leading the NGF Committee interfacing with the Office of the AGF on the implementation of Executive Order 10.
Accordingly, it said that the committee is currently working on a template acceptable to all parties for the implementation of the financial autonomy for state legislature and judiciary.
Also, the communique said that the NGF HelpDesk Programme Manager, Mr. Olanrewaju Ajogbasile, provided an update on the states’ Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) programme.
It explained that the forum in collaboration with the Word Bank has negotiated a flexible payment term for the acquisition of a software as a service (SaaS) e-procurement solution for all states in the country.
In view of this, the communique said that states can now make 30 per cent advance payment for the solution after signing the framework contract, adding that the software, which is aimed at improving public procurement in the country, has many advantages over traditional models of business software installation including lower upfront cost, quick set up and deployment, easy upgrade, accessibility and scalability.
The NGF said that states were also encouraged to publish a Consolidated Revenue Code, Public Procurement Law and Debt Management Law on or before September 30, 2020 to be assessed under the SFTAS 2019 Annual Performance Assessment (APA).