See young people as asset, UN official advises Nigeria leaders

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By Emmanuel Oloniruha
Abuja, Nov. 17, 2020 Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations Amina Mohammed has advised Nigeria leaders to see young people as an asset, if they want peaceful retirement.

Mohammed gave the advice during her visit to the Nigeria Governors’ Forum Secretariat, in Abuja on Tuesday as part of her tour of some West African States including Ghana, Sierra Leone, Chad, Niger and Nigeria.

A statement issued by the Head, Media and Public Affairs of NGF, Mr Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, quoted Mohammed as commending the governors for the mature manner with which they handled that EndSARS demonstrations.

She, however, regretted that some ugly influences eventually contaminated the EndSARS protests.

Dr Kayode Fayemi, the NGF Chairman and Governor of Ekiti State, while welcoming the UN General Assembly scribe, stressed the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on the country and governance at its sub-national level.

Fayemi said that although the virus hit Nigeria in March, its impacts had been ravaging with over 64,090 confirmed cases and 1,154 deaths.

The impacts according to him include the fall in oil prices, contracting tax base, loss of sources of livelihood, unemployment and youth restiveness (EndSARS Protests).

Others impacts according to Fayemi include increasing inflation rate, worsening exchange rate, decline in productivity due to necessary lockdown measures initiated globally and nationally.

Fayemi, explaining how the various states handled the pandemic at the subnational level, said that the governors worked collaboratively, co-opting ideas and welcoming support from critical stakeholders including partners and the private sector.

“At the wake of the pandemic, we worked with the Federal Government to ensure the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Presidential Task Force (PTF), National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development got all the support it required in delivering swift containment measures.

“At the National Economic Council (NEC) level, we developed a COVID-19 response plan encompassing health, economic and socio-economic, immediate to medium term measures needed to combat the virus and its impact.”

Fayemi added that at the subnational level, the governors set up intervention funds, social investment programmes, distributed palliatives, launched tax incentive programmes to protect and support livelihoods as well as businesses.

He said such reflected in the 2020 amended State budgets of which 10 per cent was earmarked for COVID-19 response expenditures.

According to him, the recent partner interventions undertaken by States included the World Bank $750 million States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) additional financing.

Others interventions according to Fayemi were $750 million COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (CARES) programme for results and the $100 million Regional Disease Surveillance Systems Enhancement (REDISSE).

Fayemi added that the pandemic had compelled governors to see the need for retooling themselves, on how best to become accountable to the electorate.

The statement noted that two Governors, Umaru Fintiri of Adamawa and Hope Uzodinma of Imo were present during the visit, while others joined via zoom from their respective states.

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