Governors Seal $2m Deal With Bill Gates Foundation

-To tackle polio spread in N’East

Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) and the Bill and Milinda Gates Foundation, yesterday sealed a deal on a $2 million fresh partnership deal aimed at strengthening the policies of the state governments in the area of revenue generation and primary health care.

Speaking while unveiling the terms of the new partnership deal in Abuja, the Governor of Sokoto State who represented the Chairman of Governors forum, Aminu Tambuwal, assured of the commitment of the governors irrespective of political affiliations to the renewed efforts to improve the economy and healthcare needs of the people.
“On our part as governors, we are committed to success in any issue related to the NGF and this one will not be an exception, “ he said.

The representative of the Bill Gates and Belinda Foundation, Mark Suzman, said that his organisation recognises how critical state leadership is to the development in Nigeria.

He also noted that available statistics showed that two-thirds of social spending in Nigeria occurs at the state level.“We are pleased to be supporting the critical work of the NGF as it facilitates better information exchange, collaboration in policy and the work of governors in determining how best to ensure federal and state policies work for Nigeria’s poorest.

“We intend to mobilize real, genuine political commitment and follow-up in the pursuit of best practices in the area of proper revenue management and health care delivery.
Suzman who said that the Gates Foundation and the NGF had previously partnered together on polio eradication Nigeria with success, however expressed disappointment that the scourge has found its way back to the country.

He lamented the out-break of polio in the North East areas on the country which he attributed to the debilitating war against insurgency.

Suzman said that the Foundation along with other partners are in the process of embarking on massive humanitarian efforts in the north east to help vaccinate children against polio and other related diseases .

Apart from the health care issues, Suzman said the partnership deal is also aimed at assisting the 36 state gvernments to raise their internally generated revenue so as to have more funds for development.

“ Our previous grant was specifically target and succeful in in elevating polio on a standing NGF agenda item. Under this new partnership, we hope to build upon that example and help tackle two issues that are inhibiting Nigeria and states specifically from achieving committee health and development goals,” he said.

Speaking on the committment of the governors, the Director-General of the NGF, Okauru said the secretariat of the forum is fully prepared to assist the 36 states governments in their drive for better performance.

“ We are pleased to be partnering with Bill Gates Foundation in the specific areas of revenue and financial policy and tracking as well as primary health care,” he said.

Governor Tambuwal and Kebbi state governor stood for other governors during the ceremony to kick-start the partnership deal.

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