The Nigerian Governors Forum, NGF, has asked the National Assembly to stop the passage of Control of Infectious Disease Bill to give room for wider consultations with all stakeholders.
The governors made their position known in a communique issued and signed on Thursday by the Chairman of the forum and Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi after their teleconference meeting on Wednesday.
The communique said “Following an update from the Governor of Sokoto State and Vice Chairman of the NGF, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, on the proposed Control of Infectious Diseases Bill, 2020 introduced by the House of Representatives, Governors raised concern with the lack of consultation with State governments who are at the forefront of the epidemic.
It said “The Forum resolved that the Bill should be stepped down until an appropriate consultative process is held, including a public hearing to gather public opinion and concerns.’’
The communique said the Forum has established a Committee comprising the Governors of Katsina, Sokoto, and Plateau to lead a consultative meeting with the leadership of the National Assembly on the proposed Control of Infectious Diseases Bill, 2020 as the NGF Secretariat was also mandated to comprehensively review the Bill and its implication on States.
The forum also expressed concerns over the rising cases of the COVID-19 infections across the nation.
It resolved to among other things, work in collaboration with the Dangote Foundation to set up and train volunteer health workforce and increase the tempo of setting up isolation centres.
They also resolved to make available additional warehouses to store palliatives donated by the private sector and ensure that such donations get to the most vulnerable in each state.
The state governors agreed to take additional measures to strengthen their public financial management systems, including a revision of their 2020 budgets and the amendment of state procurement guidelines to support e-procurement and the participation of small and medium-sized enterprises.
This, according to them, followed an update from the Governor of Edo, Godwin Obaseki, on the operation of the World Bank States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) project which was supporting a strong pro-poor fiscal response to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It added that to fast-track the deployment of e-procurement across states, the forum would be adopting a Software as a Service (SaaS) model with the Kaduna state government providing the framework agreement that other states could leverage on.
The governors noted the rising trend of deductions from revenues accruals to the federation account, available for distribution to the three tiers of government, and the threat it posed on the fiscal capacity of states to respond to the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Members also raised concern about the ownership and distribution of proceeds from recovered looted funds and accounts or investments funded as the first-line charge from the federation account.
It noted that “The forum agreed to engage with the federal government to ensure that the governance arrangement of all federation-funded investments, recognise state governments as shareholders in the distribution of proceeds and decision making.’’