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N614bn bailout deductions: Governors insist on review of payment process

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…Take steps to check outbreak of Lassa fever

By Henry Umoru

THE thirty- six State Governors under the aegis of Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) Thursday agreed that there should be a review in the payment process of the N614 billion that was advanced to thirty five states as budget support facility.

The Governors who converged on Abuja Wednesday night for the meeting at its Secretariat in Maitama, Abuja, discussed among others, issues of deductions for Budget Support Facility loan granted them by the Federal Government as top of the agenda.

The meeting which was the first in the year 2020 was ahead of yesterday’s National Economic Council (NEC) at the Presidential Villa.

Responding to a question on Reconciliation for budget support facilities after the meeting of the governors ahead of the National Economic Council, NEC meeting, Chairman of NGF and Ekiti State governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi said, “that is something that has been handled. We have come up with our own recommendations of special fund generally not just budget support facilities

“On budget support facilities specifically, states are already honouring in their obligations. They are already paying back what is owned to the federal government.

“The question of the amount is something that we will continue to review. It is our view that we should be paying a lot less what we are paying but that is something that has not been addressed yet. But that has not stopped us from honouring the obligation to the federal government that lend the resources to us at the time that they did.”

Recall that the Federal Government had in September, began deduction of the N614 billion bailout funds it gave to states for payment of salaries of workers in 2016.

READ ALSO: How my non re-election in 2014 set Ekiti back — Fayemi

The bailout refund had been on the agenda of the governors at every meeting since the federal government started the deductions.

Also recall that in  October 2019, the governors kicked against the plan to extend the repayment period of its budget support to state governments from 20 to 30 years.

The Federal government had explained that the monthly repayment had reduced from N252 million to N162 million based on the extension.

Also yesterday, the governors said that they were taking very serious steps to check the outbreak of Lassa Fever in some States of the country.

Answering question on the outbreak of the epidemic, governor Fayemi said, “the epidemic that have happened in one or two states, Ondo in the South West and Kano in the north. Well this is the period where we have an upsurg, particularly of lassa fever. I believe all our state are taking precautionary measures to address this in conjunction with the federal ministry of health and the National Centre for disease control (NCDC). We are working to ensure that this does not spread any further that they have at the moment.”

Recall that Lassa Fever outbreak has spread to Delta, Enugu and seven other States since the beginning of the year.

The disease has so far killed 16 people in Ondo, three in Kano, while Edo and Delta recorded one death each and hundreds of people are also on watch list across the country particularly in Kano and Ondo States.

Speaking further, NGF Chairman said that the Governors gave agreed that the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy must  ensure that it does not increase the right of way fee beyond what has been generally agreed by the governors and National Economic Council,  NEC.

According to Fayemi, after the Communications Minister, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami met and briefed the governors, “The main demand with the minister is that we maintain the fee agreed in year 2013 at the National Economy Council which is N145 per linearmetter in the state.

“The contest within  which the issue if waver came up is what has been offered in Kaduna state for example where the state government has waved the right of way fee and that is not compulsory or decision of the forum even in demand from the minister that should be a condition for broadband Penetration or fiber optic laying in our states.

” It is just that where we think think might be visible, then states will look at the possibility of doing this in our states, but the key demand which we are all interested in pursuing is to ensure that we do not increase the right of way fee beyond what has been generally agreed by governors and NEC.”

Reading a communique after the meeting, the NGF Chairman said, “We, members of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum ( NGF), at our meeting held today at the NGF Secretariat Abuja, deliberated  on several issues and resolved as follows:

“The Forum received an update from the NGF Secretariat on Health priorities for the year 2020, including the implementation of the Seattle Commitment signed by the Forum at a 2-day High Level Roundtable on Primary Health Care and Human Capital Development convened in nov. 2019 by Aliko Dangote and the Bill and Melinda Gates

“The forum also received update on the lassa fiver epidemic and the Chinese virus that is currently conflagrating around the world.

“Foundation in November 2019. Governors agreed to carry out immediate actions on the implementation of the Seattle Declaration including the constitution of a multisectoral Primary Health Care Under One Roof (PHCUOR) implementation committee, quarterly review of PHC performance in State Executive Council meetings, review of States‘ performance on the Abuja Commitment and organisation of advocacy meetings with traditional and religious leaders.

“The Forum received an update from the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami in the company Of the Executive Vice Chainnan/CEO of the Nigerian Communications Commission, Prof. Umar Garba

“Danbatta; Mrs Funsho Okpeke‚ CEO of Main0ne and Chairperson of the Presidential Committee on Broadband; and Mr. Kashifu lnuwa Abdullahi_ Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), to familiarise Governors on the new National Digital Economtc Policy ‘

“The minister brief the forum on new national digital economy strategy and solicited the support of states on the development of business regulations around right of way  and multiple taxations, around skills and innovations, infrastructure and indigenous content promotion.

“Governors expressed their readiness to collaborate with federal ministry of communications and digital economy to developed state level digital strategies and committed to harmonise all right of way charges across state to achieve the 70 per cent national broadband Penetration by the end of 2020.

“Members also also invited the ministry to take full advantage of the universe service Provision Fund USPS which was set up to facility investment in critical communications infrastructure across part of the country not considered commercially viable.

“Following a presentation on the Citizens‘ Home Ownership programme ‘by the MD/CEO of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) Architect Ahmed Musa Dangiwa, members pledged to engage with the Bank to address housing deficit in the country.

“Finally, the Forum received presentation from the Executive Director of the Bank of Agriculture (BoA), Olabode Abikoye on a sub-natioual engagement model for  youth employment in agriculture. Governors agreed to meet with relevant parties to discuss modalities for implementing the model.”

The meeting which lasted into the early hours of yesterday was  presided over by the Chairman and governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi.

Present at the meeting were  Kayode Fayemi  of Ekiti; Aminu Tambuwal of  Sokoto; Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo; Adegboyega Oyetola of  Osun; Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi; Simon Lalong of  Plateau; Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta;  Abubakar Badaru of Jigawa; Nasir El- Rufai of Kaduna; Mai Mala Buni of Yobe; Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger and Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa, while those of Gombe, Borno, Oyo,  Kogi, Lagos, Anambra, Enugu were represented at the meeting by their deputies.


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