By Eric Ikhilae, Abuja, Nwanosike Onu, Awka and Emma Elekwa, Onitsha

  • CACOVID targets 10m with palliatives worth N23b
  • Anambra takes delivery of 55 trucks of food items

Governors of the 36 states have met to, among others, work out ways to reduce the impact of a possible second wave of the coronavirus (COVID-19) infection.

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At a meeting of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) on Wednesday, members resolved to immediately begin putting together necessary preventive measures.

They took the decision after a briefing by the Chairman of the NGF Sub-Committee led by Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, which is interfacing with the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19  on measures discussed on reopening the economy.

Some highlights of the briefing by Okowa, according to a communique issued after the NGF’s 14th teleconference  meeting  included concerns such as guidelines required to reopen schools; resumption of international flights; the need for increased testing capacity and sample collection centres in local government areas and disbursement of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund and other health-related facilities.

Others include the dissemination of guidelines for home care for COVID-19 cases; and the non-availability of reagents due to its high demand globally.

Some of the  measures being considered by the governors, according to the communique, are to continue with ongoing negotiation with the Federal Government to afford states easy access to the Universal Basic Education (UBE) funds to enable them to put in place necessary measures to curb COVID-19 spread in schools, and the need to address the grievances of resident doctors nationwide.

In the communique signed by NGF’s Chairman, Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi, members  resolved to “take cognisance of the possibility of a second wave of COVID-19 infection and should start preparing preventive measures”.

In that regard, the governors, after deliberating on the recent strike by members of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), enjoined state governments, with unresolved issues with the doctors, to meet with the association at least, at the local level to agree on workable solutions in the face-of over the current challenges.

It communique added that some state governments still have unresolved issues with the resident doctors, which include unpaid salaries for doctors and the non-domestication and non-implementation of the Medical Residency Training Act, 2017.

“The meeting deliberated on the ongoing negotiation between the NGF and the Federal Government to waive the requirement that state governments provide counterpart funds before they can access Universal Basic Education (UBE) funds.

“The move was taken in the light of the impact of COVID-19, which has affected the capacity of state governments to provide counterpart funds required to access various national funds and statutory levies.

“The forum had adopted the Report of the National Economic Council Ad-Hoc Committee on COVID-19 chaired by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, which recommended the immediate suspension of the requirement for state governments to provide matching funds to access grants like UBEC.”

Alhaji Aliko Dangote, on behalf of the private sector-led Coalition against COVID-19 (CACOVID), also briefed the governors on the kick-off and distribution of food items to vulnerable persons in the 36 states, in collaboration with the NGF.

According to the communique, the kick-off, which started on August 4, in Borno, Edo, Enugu and Kano states, will hold daily in at least, one state in each geo-political zone until August 11.

According to the communique, the governors deliberated on “the recent attack on the convoy of the Borno State Governor Babagana Umaru Zulum and the rapidly degenerating state of security across the country.

“The chairman stated that the NEC Ad-Hoc Committee on Security and Policing met on Tuesday 4th August 2020 with the heads of the nation’s security agencies to discuss and review the security challenges in the country. According to the chairman, resolutions reached will be presented to Mr. President shortly.”

Members of the NEC-Ad-hoc Committee are: governors of Ekiti, Bayelsa, Ebonyi,  Kastina, Kogi and Borno states.

Others are: the National Security Adviser (NSA), the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) or his representative.

The Organised Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) said yesterday, it has kicked off the palliative distribution exercise worth N23 billion targetted at 10 million people.

Mrs. Zouera Youssoufou, the CACOVID Administrator and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF), stated this at a news briefing on Thursday in Lagos.

It was a follow-up to a meeting on Wednesday between NGF and Dangote, on behalf of the private sector-led CACOVID, on the kick-off and distribution of  food items to vulnerable persons in the 36 states, in collaboration with the NGF.

She said the palliatives were to mitigate the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to her, the palliatives were meant for 1.6 million households, amounting to about 10 million people across the 774 local government areas, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Also on Thursday, Anambra State government received 55 lorry loads of food items from the coalition.

The food items, comprised bags of rice, Indomie, spaghetti, salt and other consumables were to be distributed to the 181 communities in the state.

Receiving the items, the state Governor, Willie Obiano appreciated the organisations for supporting government efforts in cushioning the effects of coronavirus pandemic in the state.

Obiano, represented by his deputy, Dr. Nkem Okeke, thanked the coalition for choosing the Anambra as the pilot state for the gesture, saying the items would go a long way in assuaging the sufferings of the citizens.

Source: The Street Journal

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