We, members of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), at our meeting held today, Wednesday, June 10, 2020 deliberated on a number of issues affecting the country especially the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
1. The NGF Chairman provided an update on:
a. The Forum’s meeting with the Chief of Staff to the President, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN. The team of governors discussed the implications of the contentious Executive Order #10, which among others mandates the allocation of appropriated funds to the State Legislature and State Judiciary in the State appropriation laws in the annual budget of the State as a First Line Charge upon the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the State. The delegation of Governors, led by himself, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State and his Kebbi State counterpart, Abubakar Bagudu, represented the Forum;
b. The public hearing on the proposed Control of Infectious Disease Bill, 2020 at the House of Representatives (Committee on Healthcare Services) which he attended with the Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, on behalf of the Governors.
2. The Forum also received updates and presentations from:
a. 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 for the Federal and State governments to relax the COVID-19 lockdown;
b. The Chairman, Board of Trustees of the Nigeria Police Trust Fund (NPTF), Suleiman Abba (IGP, Rtd) on the Police Trust Fund (PTF) which is a special intervention fund established by the Police Trust Fund Act to provide funds for, inter alia, the training and welfare of personnel of the Nigeria Police Force;
c. The Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen who addressed members on the rising case of rape and gender-based violence in the country which has escalated threefold since the enforcement of the COVID-19 lockdown;
d. The World Bank Team lead by the Country Director, Shubham Chaudhuri who gave an update to members on the US$750m additional financing under the State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) Program for Results.
Thereafter, members of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum resolved as follows to:
1. Congratulate Mr. President for the decision to postpone the formal publication of Executive Order #10 of 2020 in the Official Gazette to enable further consultations among all stakeholders;
2. Through the NGF Committee led by the Vice Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto State, continue meeting with the delegation of the Conference of Speakers and other stakeholders to work out modalities for resolving all concerns regarding Executive Order #10 amicably;
3. Reiterate the position of members that the proposed Control of Infectious Diseases Bill, 2020 takes into account the crucial role of State Governments within Nigeria’s federal system in responding to pandemics in the country. Specifically, State Governors should be conferred with the powers, among others to, declare any place within their State an infected area; make regulations and directives towards prevention and further spread of an infectious disease within the State; establish States’ Centers for Disease Control; the discretionary powers of Mr. President and the Director General as contained in the proposed Bill should be reviewed; Finally, while cautioning on certain human rights violations in the proposed Bill, Governors also highlighted potential contraventions with the Nigerian Constitution;
4. Endorse the work of Governor Okowa’s Committee to consolidate measures to gradually open the formal and informal sectors of the economy, especially agricultural activities in rural areas, manufacturing (including the distribution of goods across States), markets, construction, hotels and restaurants (takeaways only), and worship centers based on existing COVID-19 protocols;
5. Agree with the Presidential Taskforce (PTF) to prioritize government’s response in hotspots across the country that account for the largest share of COVID-19 cases. Governors are encouraging citizens who have COVID-19 symptoms to go for testing to ensure that they receive timely care and that their families are protected from being infected. States are already working with the PTF to ensure that there are operational testing laboratories in each State;
6. Call on each State government to develop a strategy for opening its economy based on the Guidelines agreed to by the PTF and the NGF. So far, success has been recorded in improving the supply and availability of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), with five companies certified by the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to locally produce PPE;
7. Pass a vote of confidence on the newly appointed Chairman of the Police Trust Fund to steer a responsive and responsible Police Force and called on him to ensure that the composition of the PTF Board is representative of the country’s diversity;
8. Advise the Chairman of the Police Trust Fund to seek legal advice on the funding sources of the organization as the current arrangement in its Act which amongst others, sources its funding from 0.5% of the total revenue accruing to the Federation Account violates the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution;
9. Declare a State of Emergency on Sexual and Gender-based Violence. Governors strongly condemned all forms of violence against women and children and committed to ensuring that offenders face the maximum weight of the law;
10. Call on State Governors that have not already domesticated relevant gender-based protection laws to domesticate the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act, the Child Rights Act and the updated Penal Code to increase protection for women and children and ensure speedy investigation and prosecution of perpetrators in addition to creating a sex offenders register in each State to name and shame;
11. Invite the Commissioners of Police to provide a detailed report on the actions taken to strengthen their response to sexual and gender-based violence through the Family Support Units and Force Gender Units at the State and Local Government levels. Governors will commit additional funding for the prevention and response to sexual and gender-based violence through appropriate Ministries, Departments and Agencies;
12. Endorse the Communique of the meeting of the First Ladies in Nigeria which held on 7th June 2020 to evaluate and mobilize action to check the alarming rate of sexual violence against women and girls and indeed all forms of violence against women;
13. Commend the World Bank on the provision of US$750m additional financing for the State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability Program for Results (SFTAS). State Governors pledged to ensure that their Ministries of Finance, Budget and Planning are positioned to access available funding to strengthen the COVID-19 response of State governments;
14. Endorse the recommendations of the NEC Ad-Hoc committee on COVID-19 which highlights key public health and macroeconomic actions for the Federal and State governments – many of which States are already implementing.
Governor Kayode Fayemi
Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum
10th June 2020