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•Pledge support for police reforms
Chuks Okocha in Abuja
Governors of the 36 states of the federation ended their meeting late on Thursday in Abuja with a resolve to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari over raging insecurity in the country.
Boko Haram, bandits and kidnappers have continued to terrorise and kill scores of Nigerians across the country, the latest being the massacre of 43 rice farmers in Borno State.
A source at the meeting told THISDAY last night that almost all the governors spoke in support of a firmer action against Boko Haram, bandits and kidnappers, with a call on security agencies to raise their game.
A communique signed by the chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who is also the governor of Ekiti state, said, the governors agreed to “meet with Mr. President as soon as possible to address security challenges across the country, particularly in the light of the carnage in Borno State”
Also, the governors said they would “Support the necessary reforms that will result in a police force that works for all.”
They said: “As an immediate to medium-term measure, members agreed to pay close attention to the conduct of police officers across the country in order to get them and other internal security operatives fully back to work as they have not been functioning to full capacity since the EndSARS protests with the attendant security exposure to the safety of lives and properties of the ordinary citizens.”
The governors’ forum also discussed the issue of stamp duty collection, stating that it was their responsibility and not that of the federal government.
The forum “maintains its stance that stamp duties belong primarily to states and the various collection platforms are channels of payment to the states; while aligning with the guidance provided by its lawyers and experts.”
On the controversial water resources bill, the governors resolved to “direct State Attorney Generals to review the Water Resources Bill and send their input to the Nigeria Governors’ Forum Secretariat as quickly as possible.”
They said that the Secretariat was tracking feedback from States on the Water Resources Bill in order to coordinate the Forum’s response to the ministry.
The governors endorsed the two proposals for infrastructure development that were presented by the Governor Nasir el Rufai Committee and the Central Bank Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele, noting that both were not mutually exclusive and could be adopted simultaneously with one streaming into the other;
They also agreed to keep active and operational the State COVID-19 Task Force Teams and Emergency
The governors said that they are committed to achieving the second Eligibility Criteria (EC) requirement of publishing online their approved FY21 Annual State Budget, prepared under the National Chart of Accounts, by 31st January 2021.
They stated their commitment to implement reforms associated with the programme, including the deployment of Geographic Information System (GIS) technology to support effective land administration and an efficient property tax system.
They resolved to inaugurate the NGF-NESG Economic Roundtable (NNER) Steering Committee, whose technical committee is to commence the implementation of the strategic plan; which includes but not limited to the national mapping of subnational endowments; global mapping of sub-national entities for global competitiveness and development of competitiveness toolkits.
The governors said that a delegation of members of the Forum had paid a commiseration visit to the Governor of Borno State, Professor Babagana Zulum, in Maiduguri on December 1, 2020, over the killing of over 40 rice farmers in Garin Kwashebe in Jere Local Government Area of Borno State last Saturday by suspected Boko Haram terrorists.
The communique said after the EndSARS protests, the judicial commissions of enquiry instituted by governors across the 36 States of the federation to probe petitions of brutality by law enforcement agents were in progress.
They also discussed education, stating that “After Mr. President’s approval of the request of governors for change in the financing model of the Universal Basic Education from the current counterpart funding requirement to a Programme for-Result performance driven model, the NGF Secretariat is following up with the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to complete work on drafting the Executive Order to guide Mr. President’s directive.”
It further said that The Forum is currently intervening in resolving the lingering ASUU strike and has secured certain concessions from the federal government with the hope that the strike action will be called off shortly.
On the delayed release of Saving One Million Lives (SOML) funding, the Chairman acknowledged concerns of members and explained that the delay was due to observations made by the World Bank on the technical quality of the SMART Survey which makes it difficult to use the result for fund disbursement.
He said that the total amount won by the States was more than the funds remaining in the funding envelope; hence they proposed the option of using a prorated approach to disburse the fund and urged the Minister of Health to convene a meeting of the SOML Steering Committee to resolve the issue.
The Forum also received presentations from Governor El Rufai, Chairman of the National Economic Council (NEC) Adhoc Committee on Leveraging Portion of Accumulated Pension Funds for Investment in NSIA.
He briefed the Forum on a proposed National Infrastructure Investment Fund (NIIF) under the auspices of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) such that a total sum of N2 Trillion at 9% interest can be accessed through the NSIA.
The NGF Chairman noted that the CBN Governor had a similar proposal to access N15 trillion for national infrastructure funding through INFRACREDIT at a lower interest rate of 5%.”