For the second time in one month, the Northern States Governors Forum has met to discuss the region’s response to the Corona Virus pandemic and evaluate some of the measures adopted by each State to deal with the situation.
The meeting presided over by its Chairman, Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State was convened via teleconferencing with 17 Governors participating.
The Chairman briefed the members on some of the issues discussed at their last meeting and the follow up developments.
He told them that based on their resolution at the last meeting, he had a discussion with President Muhammadu Buhari where he conveyed their concerns on the need for the region to access special funding, palliatives, testing centres and other forms of support to assist the region deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said the President assured him of the support of the Federal Government within the context of Federal Government programmes both under the Corona Virus response and under other incentives to farmers and States.
The meeting further discussed the issue of COVID-19 Testing Centres within the Northern Region where it noted some improvement, but again insisted that all States in the region should have at least one centre in order to make the detection of the disease and its management easier and faster.
On border control and lockdown measures, the Northern Governors retained their earlier decision for the States to individually decide on the measure to adopt, but reaffirmed the need for border closures to stop inter-state spread of the disease, which is rising in the region.
The Governors also discussed the risk that Almajiri children are exposed to because of the Corona Virus disease where they unanimously decided to totally ban the Almajiri system and evacuate the children to their parents or States of origin.
They agreed to take a cue from Kano, Kaduna and Nasarawa States who have begun returning Almajiri children to families and States of origin, while those within their States who do not have parents are taken care of by the Government.
They vowed never to allow the system persist any longer because of the social challenges associated with it including the perpetuation of poverty, illiteracy, insecurity and social disorder.
The meeting also engaged the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Alhaji Muhammed Sabo Nanono on the incentives available to Nigerian Farmers and how those in their region can benefit.
The Minister outlined all the agricultural programmes of the Federal Government including provision of farm inputs and fertilizers, cluster farming, training and deployment of extension workers, provision of rural roads, value chain addition, development of irrigation facilities, agro-mechanization and mobilization of agro-rangers.
The Governors also raised concerns about the challenges of insecurity especially the activities of bandits, Boko Haram insurgents, Kidnappers and other criminals who they say pose great threat to farmers who are afraid to go to their farms – a development that could result in food insecurity. They therefore resolved to engage relevant Federal Government Agencies and heads of security agencies to urgently address the problem.
The Forum also noted with dismay rapid deforestation in the region and resolved to take tougher measures to curtail the situation.
They also reiterated their resolve to turn the economic challenges posed by the Corona Virus Pandemic into opportunities for diversification and emancipation.
The Northern Governors also commiserated with President Muhammadu Buhari over the loss of his Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari and prayed that God will grant his family and the Government of Borno State the fortitude to bear the loss.
By Matthew Tegha