The 36 State Governors under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) kicked against the provisions of the reintroduction of the controversial National Water Resources bill, 2022 which has been gazetted for Second Reading on the floor of the House of Representatives.
The governors’ position was contained in a communique issued after the end of the 5th teleconference meeting chaired by Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State.
According to the NGF Chairman, the “Governors argued that the Bill does not adequately address the interests of the states and is inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The Bill according to the Forum should be reviewed with a view to accommodating the concerns of all States.”
In the same vein, the Governors during the virtual meeting received reports on the continued impact of the PMS subsidy on the economy, the implications of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Limited on the federation revenues, as well as the widening divergence between the official and parallel market rate of the dollar on the currency as well as the $500 million World Bank Livestock Productivity and Resilience Support Project (LPRES).
The communique read: “We, members of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), at our meeting held today, deliberated on issues of national importance, and resolved as follows: The Forum received presentations from the Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar, on the Livestock Productivity and Resilience Support Project (LPRES) – a 6-year $500 million World Bank programme aimed at improving the productivity, commercialization, and resilience of targeted livestock production systems in Nigeria.
“Governors unanimously decided to spearhead the programme in their states, particularly in areas such as institutional and innovation systems strengthening, livestock value-chain enhancement, crisis prevention and conflict mitigation, and project coordination.
“The Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget & National Planning, Mrs. (Dr.) Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed presented the draft 2023 – 2025 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) as part of the consultative process in the development of the Federal Government’s fiscal policy and to share relevant macroeconomic and fiscal assumptions to help States prepare their Economic and Fiscal Update (EFU), FSP and Budget Policy Statement (BPS).
“Following the presentation, Governors had a robust discussion with priority given to the government’s response to the fallouts of the Russia-Ukraine war (including inflation and the rising food and nutrition crises), the continued impact of the PMS subsidy on the fiscal headroom of governments, implications of NNPC’s new transition on federation revenues, as well as the widening divergence between the official and parallel market rate of the dollar on the currency.
“The State Action on Business Enabling Reforms (SABER) programme was presented by Dr. Jumoke Oduwole, Special Adviser to the President on Ease of Doing Business. SABER is a 3-year performance-based intervention jointly designed by the World Bank Technical team and the PEBEC Secretariat with support from the Federal Ministry of Finance Budget and National Planning (FMFBNP), Home Finance Department (HFD), and the NGF Secretariat to incentivize and strengthen the implementation of business enabling reforms across Nigeria. SABER is technically a successor to State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability, and Sustainability (SFTAS).
“In line with the objectives of the programme, the Forum endorsed the programme and committed to set up an Ad-hoc Committee to steer the implementation of the programme in all States of the Federation.
“In furtherance to meeting the goals of the Seattle Declaration, the Forum committed to mobilizing their state and local government teams for the PHC Leadership Challenge.
“Specific commitments include that PHC performance will be addressed at the State Executive Council level, Governors will conduct visits to PHC facilities, Governors will hold meetings with traditional leaders to discuss PHC, Deputy Governors will chair PHC taskforces, while State committees will be set up on food and nutrition.
“On a related matter, the Honourable Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, addressed the Forum on available Global Fund support to state governments designed to revamp Primary Healthcare Centers, State Healthcare Centers, Ambulance Services, and Drug Management Support in states. Members resolved to work with the federal ministry of health to actualize this initiative.
“On the Reintroduction of the National Water Resources Bill, Governors argued that the Bill does not adequately address the interests of the states and is inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Bill according to the Forum should be reviewed with a view to accommodating the concerns of all states.
“Finally, the Forum received a presentation by the leadership of the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) on the Primary Health Care Leadership Challenge Fund – a product of the Seattle Declaration – the Primary Health Care and Human Capital Development Roundtable hosted in November 2019 by Mr. Bill Gates, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, co-chair of the roundtable and the NGF.
“The Seattle Declaration sets out a series of commitments for State governments including the implementation of Primary Health Care Under One Roof, a costed Minimum Service Package tailored to States, State Basic Health Care Provision Fund requirements, improved financing for PHC as per the Abuja Commitment, review of State PHC performances in State Executive Councils, State Task Force on PHC chaired by the Deputy Governors, and the engagement of traditional and religious leaders on PHC.”
By Kehinde Akintola,