Govs: We’re Not Opposed to Autonomy for Judiciary, Legislature

Kayode Fayemi

Chuks Okocha in Abuja

Governors of the 36 states of the federation have debunked claims that they are against President Muhammadu Buhari’s Executive Order 10 of 2020, granting financial autonomy to state judiciary and legislature.

The governors, in a communiqué issued thursday at the end of their virtual meeting, held under the auspices of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), said they were still in talks with the federal government to resolve some contentious issues on the implementation of Executive Order 10.

According to the communiqué signed by the NGF Chairman and Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, “there were ongoing consultative meetings with the federal government to resolve the contentious provisions of the Executive Order 10. State governments have expressed that they are integrally not opposed to the autonomy of the judiciary and the legislature.”

The communiqué said the governors also deliberated on the arrangements for the disbursement of other funds to help close the financing gap created by the COVID-19 pandemic, including the $100 million COVID-19 Support from the World Bank and the N1 billion to each state from the federal government to fund health mitigation measures and refunds from the federal government for federal roads constructed or rehabilitated by the states.

The meeting also discussed the governors’ collaborations with the EU/UN Spotlight Initiative and its partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on sexual violence and protection for women and children.

The communiqué said: “The new partnership is aimed at strengthening actions kick-started by the state governments following the declaration of a state of emergency on sexual and gender-based violence by the forum at its meeting of 10th of June, 2020, and the willingness of members to engage in the development of a national post-COVID-19 blueprint.”

It added that the governors discussed a new partnership with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) aimed at strengthening the implementation of the programme and creating more economic opportunities for small holder farmers in all states.

It said the governors were in consultations with the Senate Health Committee, the Ministry of Health, the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) and National Health Insurance Agency to facilitate the continuous implementation of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) during the pandemic.

“All parties have agreed to lift the requirement for counterpart funding to enable qualified states access undisbursed funds in the facility,” the governors said.

They also received updates and presentations from the Governor of Delta State, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, who is the Chairman of the NGF Sub-committee interfacing with the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.

The governors noted that Okowa spoke on the collaboration between states and the federal government to reopen schools, especially for graduating students of secondary schools, and government strategies to increase the volume of sample collection, which is currently around 30 per cent.

The communiqué said that the Task Team Leader for the World Bank States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability, and Sustainability – Program-for-Results (PforR), Mr. Yue Man Lee, provided key updates on the programme and actions for state governments to meet upcoming deadlines for the 2019 Annual Performance Assessment (APA) and the SFTAS Additional Financing Disbursement Linked Indicators (DLIs).

Also, the National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Dr. Sani Aliyu, gave a briefing on the need to for governors to strengthen the risk communication pillar of the COVID-19 pandemic response.

According to the communiqué, the NGF Secretariat’s Agric Advisor, Mr. Olatunde Akande, also made a presentation on the NGF/CBN partnership on the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP).

In the light of the proposed partnership with the CBN on the ABP, the communiqué said an official MoU signing would be held on July 28.