Govs Resolve to Consolidate Measures for Gradual Opening of Economy

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Ifeanyi Okowa

By Chuks Okocha

At the end of their 13th virtual conference Wednesday, Nigerian governors endorsed the work of Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s Committee to consolidate measures to gradually open the formal and informal sectors of the economy.

This was one of the highpoints of their meeting as contained in the communique signed by the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum NGF, Dr. Kayode Fayemi.

According to the communique, the governors also agreed to “Endorse the work of the Kaduna State El-Rufai Committee and resolved to engage with the Vice President and Chairman of the National Economic Council, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, to facilitate States’ representation in the implementation committee of the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan.

“Members also advocated for the need to revitalize Nigeria’s Mortgage Bank to support the government’s ambitious housing programme, and the importance of the N2 trillion Nigeria Infrastructure Investment Fund to stimulate the economy.”

The governors also agreed to collaborate with the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and FERMA to ensure the implementation of the five percent user charge on the pump price of petrol and the international vehicle transit charge to better fund road projects in Nigeria.

According to the governors, “Although the second corruption survey focused on federal government agencies, members resolved to collaborate with UNODC to strengthen public complaints mechanisms across State MDAs given that state institutions, businesses and households are affected by bribe seeking among public sector officials.”

The governors agreed to collaborate with the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to support the implementation of the National Gas Expansion Programme through a state-wide adoption of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG); easing gas pipeline right of way applications; and encouraging the micro stove assembly for small businesses, including facilitating training for gas operators.

The governors said that given the rise in the community spread of coronavirus cases with mild or no symptom, state governments are encouraged to ramp up testing to curb the spread of the virus especially amongst those with preexisting conditions and the elderly.

The communique noted that the World Bank Regional Disease Surveillance Systems Enhancement (REDISSE) programme, which is a US$100 million COVID-19 support from the federal government to fund health mitigation measures across states, “comes at a critical time as the impact of COVID-19 prolongs and when state governments prepare for the reopening of the economy, and it will support broader mitigation measures required to ensure seamless easing of the lockdown across states.”, they resolved.

According to the communique, “COVID-19 pandemic and the new strategy being rolled out by the Presidential Taskforce (PTF) to address the spread of the pandemic. LGAs with high burden of diseases (Hotspot) have been identified and targeted with interventions such as increased testing, and promotion of non-pharmaceutical intervention including hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, mandatory masking in public and partial or total lockdown restricting movement. The PTF will reach out and work with the governors of the respective states to implement the strategy”.

Other matters of concern discussed at the meeting was the deductions from the federation account to fund the North East Development Commission (NEDC); stamp duty collection; ownership of the Nigeria LNG Limited (NLNG); as well as the contentious Executive Order 10.

The communique said that Forum also received updates and presentations from: The Governor of Delta State. Dr. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, Chairman of the NGF Sub-Committee interfacing with the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 to provide a coordinated strategy between the Federal and State governments to ease the lockdown and open the economy.

“The Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, Chairman of the NGF Sub-Committee on COVID-19 who provided an update on the implementation of the Final Report of the NEC Ad-Hoc Committee on COVID-19 “Containing the Outbreak and Responding to the Adverse Economic Effects” which was presented to the Vice President and Chairman of the Committee, Professor Yemi Osinbajo in March 2020.

“The governor noted that the recommendations of the report have been integrated into the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP). He also highlighted cross-cutting imperatives for a post-COVID economic recovery, including a unique identity system for Nigeria; broadband connectivity; investment in the manufacturing of pharmaceutical generics; research and development; as well as institutional reforms for the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) along the lines of PENCOM.”