By Jude Dangwam, Jos
Governors of the 19 Norther states have expressed concern over the Federal Government’s decision to deny them special allocation for the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This, they observed was despite the fact some of the had cases of the pandemic and had taken stringent measures to stop the spread of the disease to their respective states in the region.
The Governors then called on the Federal Government to grant them some special funds just as done in other states of the federation, as the response to the pandemic has eaten deep into their pockets and may not be sustained any longer.
This was part of the resolutions of the NGF during their teleconference held on Monday to appraise the effect of the coronavirus in the region with a view to taking further steps in curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus in the Northern part of the country.
The Director of Press to the NGF Chairman, Dr. Makut Simon Macham said some of the issues discussed by the Northern Governors were the issue of palliatives from the Federal Government, where “they regretted that so far, no State in the region has received a dime as special allocation despite the fact that some of them have recorded cases, while others are making frantic efforts to prevent any outbreak as well as prepare against any eventuality.”,
“This they observed has eaten deep into the pockets of the States as they have spent a lot of money already and may not be able to sustain this for a long time.
Since “prevention is better than cure”, they canvassed that the Federal Government should grants them some special funds just as it has done to other States.”
He said other issues also discussed included the economic impact of COVID-19 on the region, adding that the Forum has decided that they needed to take a wholistic look at the economic prospects of the region with a view to repositioning it for less reliance on Federal Allocation and to prepare for the future by diversifying to areas of comparative advantage such as agriculture, manufacturing, tourism and human capital development.
Consequently, a 7-man Committee was set up and Chaired by Governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Abubakar Bagudu to fashion out the way forward. The other committee members include Governors of Kaduna, Sokoto, Kwara, Jigawa, Gombe and Nasarawa State.
The Forum has mandated their Chairman to liaise with the Federal Government through the Minister of Finance, Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and the Private Sector donor basket in order to benefit from available palliatives and donations.
The Northern Governors also commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the measures taken so far to deal with the pandemic and promised to do their part in working with the Federal Government to overcome the disease but lamented the lack of even a single testing centre in the region up to now.
Macham further stated that “As for testing centres, the Governors lamented that the region has no testing centres, which is very disturbing. They resolved to again liaise with the Federal Government to ensure that each State at least gets one testing centre while highly populated ones get two.”
The 19 Governors commended the citizens of the region for supporting various directives of the State Governments in dealing with the situation, asking them to endure the situation, as it was a global emergency.