By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA—Governors of the 36 states of the federation, yesterday, threw their weight behind President Muhammadu Buhari’s veto on Paris Club refund to states.
This is even as National Economic Council, NEC, directed governors to declare a state of emergency on education sector.
The Federal Government recently asked states, which had received the second tranche of Paris Club refund to return same until such conditions, such as justifying usage of the first tranche release, were met.
Briefing State House correspondents after the monthly NEC meeting at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja, Governor Mohammed Abubakar of Bauchi State, who also noted that the issue of minimum wage was not discussed at the NEC, said: “That was not discussed at the National Economic Council, NEC, meeting. Second, governors are part and parcel of the negotiation, the governors have not taken a decision either way because it’s a negotiating process and it’s ongoing.
‘’We are represented by six governors in the committee, it’s a work in progress and am sure we will get to the promised land.”
On Paris Club refund
On Paris Club and ability of states to meet the conditions, he said: “The Federal Government was right in placing those conditions. It is necessary when you are getting such huge amount of money and there are issues of workers’ salaries being owed by some states, that issue must be addressed.
“If a state does not meet that, the Federal Government will be right to hold on to the funds until it gets the commitment of all states to meet this basic responsibility.”
NEC is composed of governors and ministers in Economic Management Team, including Minister of Finance, Minister of Budget and National Planning as well as governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN. It is chaired by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.
State of emergency on education
On the directive to state governors to declare a state of emergency on education, NEC said it was to achieve a sharp turn around of the sector.
It asked the governors to also set aside at least 15 per cent of their budgets to education.
According to NEC, the action is geared towards arresting out-of-school children phenomenon, promote adult literacy and special needs education, revive Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, STEM, and Technical, Vocational Education and Training, TVET, among others.
Deputy Governor of Edo State, Comrade Philip Shuaibu, who briefed correspondents on this, stated that the meeting deliberated on the report of NEC ad-hoc committee on the revival of the education sector in Nigeria.
He said it was resolved that “all governors declared a state of emergency in the education sector of their respective states and demonstrate their commitment to revamping education.”
Shuaibu explained that the ad-hoc committee’s interim report observed that a multi-frontal approach was required to tackle the factors militating against the achievement of the nation’s educational objectives, in view of the multi-dimensional nature of the crisis in the education sector.
He said council was invited to note that National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, had completed the first phase of the SGDP exercise involving 11 states for the five-year period covering 2013-2017 across the 46 economic activities.
Shuaibu said: “The selected states accounted for N33.3 trillion in nominal GDP or 29.3 per cent of national GDP in 2017. Data on states GDP is generally useful to support evidence-based policy making.”