By Emmanuel Oloniruha
Abuja, Sept. 3, 2020 The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) has called on state governors to take ownership of the COVID-19 response as the tenure of Presidential Task Force (PTF), on COVID-19 ends in September.
NGF Chairman and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, said this in a communiqué issued at the end of the forum’s 16th virtual meeting on Thursday in Abuja.
Naija247news reports that the taskforce was inaugurated in March and was given six months mandate.
According to Fayemi, Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa, who is the Chairman, NGF Sub-committee interfacing with the PTF on COVID-19, while updating the forum, stressed the importance of continued and increased testing in all states as the economy opens.
“Okowa called on states to take ownership of the COVID-19 response, especially with the expected winding down of the PTF by the end of September.
“Low testing rates at any time will make it difficult to track the correct status of the pandemic in the country, thus making it difficult to make important decisions such as opening of schools, NYSC camps and holding elections,” he said.
Fayemi assured that the NGF, through its sub-committee on COVID-19, would address concerns raised by states on the reception of new prison inmates to curtail COVID-19 spread across correctional facilities in the country.
“The forum resolves to provide leadership to the COVID-19 response in their respective states by ramping up risk communication activities and community testing for COVID-19,” the NGF chairman said.
He noted that all state governments through their Internal Revenue Service would ensure the seamless implementation of tax relief programmes for businesses and taxpayers.
“These programmes which were released in some states since March are designed to reduce the financial burden of taxpayers in the country untill 2021 in some cases.”
He further said that the governors at the meeting received updates on the status of pending COVID-19 interventions for states.
Fayemi expressed the governors concern on the delay in the release of the results of the SMART survey conducted for the Saving One Million Lives Performance for Results (SOML-PforR) Project.
He disclosed that the Ministry of Health had approved the disbursement of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF), facility to eligible states to safeguard government interventions in primary health care service delivery during the pandemic.
The governor also disclosed that the NGF received a Rotary International Polio Certification Award for its role in eradicating polio in Nigeria.
“The forum has made polio a permanent item on its agenda for at least 18 months and is instrumental in maintaining high political commitment and coordination for routine immunisation across the country.
“In the light of Rotary’s recognition of the forum’s role in ending the polio pandemic, governors are called to maintain vigilance to ensure that the structures put in place for routine immunisation are not jeopardised by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Fayemi said.
On property matters, he said that the forum commended the World Bank for the new initiative to support states in updating their property records.
He recalled that some states were already in advanced stages of developing a geographic information system (GIS), that would help gather, manage and analyse geospatial data for spacial planning and property taxation.