By Henry Umoru
ABUJA â€” GOVERNORS of the thirty-six states of the federation, under the aegis of the Nigerian Governorsâ€™ Forum, yesterday, called on President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua to treat kidnapping in the country the way he addressed that of the militancy in the Niger Delta.
Rising from its 5th meeting at the Kwara State Governorâ€™s Lodge, Asokoro, Abuja, the governors while commending President Yarâ€™Adua and their counterparts in the South-South States for the success recorded on the amnesty programme, however stressed that the body would support the National Assembly in the passage of extra-budgetary provision that would help the Federal Government rehabilitate and re-integrate the repentant militants.
â€œWhile noting this historic movement towards peace and reconciliation by the Federal Government which has resulted in the disarmament and demobilization (of militants), members called for support for the next phase of this process: rehabilitation and the reintegration.
The Forum furthermore called on the Federal Government to treat kidnapping with the same level of seriousness it deserves.
â€œThe Forum agreed that it would give support to efforts by the National Assembly to pass extra-budgetary provision to help ex-militants in their efforts to be rehabilitated and re-integrated. As a mark of solidarity to the Niger Delta, members unanimously resolved to host its next meeting in Yenagoa, Bayelsa Stateâ€, the governors said.
Reading the CommuniquÃ© at the end of the meeting, the chairman of the Forum and Kwara State Governor, Dr. Bukola Saraki, expressed hope that the strike by members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, would be called off before the end of the week, adding that before the end of the year, all the States would begin to implement the Teachersâ€™ Salary Scheme (TSS).
Part of the CommuniquÃ© reads: â€œWe, the executive Governors of the 36 States of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, at our 5th Meeting held on October 5, 2009 under the aegis of the Nigeria Governorsâ€™ Forum resolved to support the Minister of Health in the implementation of a vector control programme designed to eradicate malaria.
â€œMembers also noted funding options available for this programme agreed to support efforts to source for funds from local stakeholders, the MDG, etc. Also noted was the ongoing success of the Polio Eradication Campaign (in the past three weeks, only one Nigerian child has been paralyzed by polio) Polio distribution in 2008 and 2009 have significantly improved.
â€œThe Forum expressed support for the Federal Governmentâ€™s Midwives Service Scheme (MSS) under the Primary Healthcare Sector, which is designed to address maternal and infant mortality through the distribution of midwives at primary healthcare centers around the country.
â€œFurthermore, the Forum noted the clarifications made by the Executive Secretary to Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and agreed that the way forward is for every State to put in place the following: an action plan, the counterpart funding, and a functional board. Once all three requirements have been met, the States can access their funds within 24 hours.
â€œAfter briefing by one of our members, the Forum commended progress made by the leadership of ASUU and the Federal Government, and expressed belief that strike would be called off shortly.
While thanking Mr. President for his support in resolving the impasse and the ASUU for its role, the Forum expressed the hope that the strike would be called off before the end of the week. The Forum also noted that States are discussing the Teachersâ€™ Salary Scheme (TSS) and it is hoped that before the end of the year, all the States would begin to implement the TSSâ€.