More criticisms have continued to trail the controversial Control of Infectious Diseases Bill introduced in the House of Representatives.
This time, the governors of the 36 states of the Federation have demanded that the bill be stepped down until all necessary procedures were followed.
The call to step down the bill formed part of the resolutions of the governors after the eighth teleconference meeting of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) which held on Wednesday.
In a statement by the NGF Chairman and Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, the governors noted that a bill of such nature needed proper consultation to gather the pulse of the public before its introduction into the chambers of the National Assembly.
They, therefore, set up a committee comprising the Governors of Katsina, Sokoto, and Plateau States – Aminu Masari, Aminu Tambuwal, and Simon Lalong, to lead a meeting with the leadership of the National Assembly on the proposed bill.
The governors also directed the NGF Secretariat to comprehensively review the bill and its implication on states.
They also raised serious concern about the effects that the regular deductions from revenues accruable to states would have on their capacity to effectively respond to the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NGF, therefore, resolved to review the 2020 budget and amend procurement guidelines to support e-procurement, as a way to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on states’ resources.
Read the full text of the statement issued at the end of the NGF teleconference meeting below:
We, members of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), at our meeting held today 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 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.