Say they are worried over increasing cases, call for additional measures
By Henry Umoru – Abuja
Governors of the thirty- states, on Thursday, asked both the Senate and the House of Representatives to immediately step down the controversial Control of Infectious Diseases Bill 2020 until an appropriate consultative process was carried out and that will include a public hearing.
Consequently, the Governors under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF, has set up a Committee comprising Governors Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State; Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto and Simon Lalong of Plateau state saddled with the responsibility of leading a consultative meeting with the leadership of the National Assembly on the proposed Control of Infectious Diseases Bill, 2020.
The governors have also mandated the NGF Secretariat to comprehensively review the Bill and its implication on States.
The Bill, among others, seeks to ensure compulsory vaccination of citizens against infectious diseases, take possession of health cards mandatory for international travellers leaving or arriving in Nigeria just like yellow fever card and repeal the Quarantine Act.
While the Bill, which already passed second reading in the House of Representatives, is titled:” Infectious Diseases Control Bill 2020″, the one which was read the first time in the Senate is titled: “National Health Emergency Bill 2020. ”
Rising from the 8th COVID-19 Teleconference meeting under the aegis of the NGF, the governors expressed fears over the increasing Cases of Coronavirus, COVID- 19 across the country, just as they stressed the urgent need for additional measures by State Governors to ramp up capacity for testing, increase the availability of isolation beds to at least 300 per State, accelerate the procurement of additional personal protective equipment (PPE).
In a Communique signed yesterday by the NGF Chairman and Ekiti State governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, the governors said that with the increasing cases in the country which reached 4,787 as at 12th May 2020 based on an update from the Presidential Taskforce (PTF) on COVID-19, it has become very imperative that there must be an improvement in the area of training for health workers, as well as the continued enforcement of interstate restriction of movement.
Following the outbreak of COVID-19, the Governors have agreed to take additional measures that would help strengthen their public financial management systems and part of the moves would be a revision of states’ 2020 budgets and the amendment of State procurement guidelines to support e-procurement and the participation of small and medium-sized enterprises
The Forum congratulated the newly appointed Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, and wished him well and looks forward to a fruitful partnership that will support the development of the country.
The statement read, We, members of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), at our meeting held today( yesterday) deliberated on the COVID-19 pandemic in the country and resolved as follows:
The NGF Chairman briefed State Governors on existing coordination activities with the Presidential Taskforce (PTF) on COVID-19, multilateral and bilateral partners, and the private sector through the Coalition against COVID-19 (CACOVID).
In addition to ongoing activities aimed at strengthening the public health response and the delivery of palliatives to vulnerable persons, the Forum is coordinating an additional response with the support of the Dangote Foundation to set up a volunteer workforce of health personnel who will be trained and deployed to strengthen the availability of health workers in States in critical need.
“The Forum is concerned with the rising number of coronavirus cases in the country which reached 4,787 as of 12th May 2020 based on an update from the Presidential Taskforce (PTF) on COVID-19.
The worrying trend urgently calls for additional measures by State Governors to ramp up capacity for testing, increase the availability of isolation beds to at least 300 per State, accelerate the procurement of additional personal protective equipment (PPE) and training for health workers, as well as the continued enforcement of interstate restriction of movement.
“In line with the commitment made by the Forum to intensify public-private collaboration for the delivery of palliatives from the private sector, Governors are making warehouses available for the delivery of palliatives and have appointed State Coordinators who will be responsible for the receipt and distribution of palliatives to vulnerable persons.
“Following an update from the Governor of Sokoto State and Vice Chairman of the NGF, H.E 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.
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.
“In the light of this, the Forum 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. The NGF Secretariat was also mandated to comprehensively review the Bill and its implication on States.
“The Forum received a briefing from the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari, on the Oil and Gas Industry Intervention Initiative on COVID-19, set up by oil and gas operators to provide medical consumables to States, deploy logistics and in-patient support systems, and deliver permanent medical infrastructure across the six geopolitical zones. Governors commended NNPC for leading the industry to take the initiative and advised the group to prioritize interventions that will boost the country’s testing capacity and the capacity of health workers who are at the frontline of the epidemic.
“Following an update from the Governor of Edo State, H.E Godwin Obaseki on the operation of the World Bank States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) project which is supporting a strong pro-poor fiscal response to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, 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.
“To fast-track the deployment of e-procurement across States, the Forum will be adopting a Software as a Service (SaaS) model with the Kaduna State government providing the framework agreement that other States can leverage on.