Some governors of Nigeria’s 36 states may soon become members of the Economic Sustainability Committee as President Buhari administration proceeds with the implementation of the sustainability plan.
President Muhammadu Buhari set up the Economic Sustainability Committee, chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, in March to work out measures to sustain Nigeria’s economy, which, like the economies of other nations, has been hit negatively by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Prof. Osinbajo gave the hint on Thursday while presiding over a virtual meeting of the National Economic Council at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The governors had made a presentation at the NEC on how the states can collaborate effectively with the Federal Government on the implementation of the recently approved N2.3 trillion stimulus programme.
The Governors welcomed the plan and committed to working with the Federal Government. According to the Vice President, possibly two state Governors could join the Committee for the implementation phase of the plan. He said such would be helpful and bring synergy.
Besides, state governments will also be actively involved in the process of executing projects in the plan, especially such projects based in the domains of respective states, in collaboration with other stakeholders and partners.
It would be recalled that while receiving the report of the Economic Sustainability Committee, President Muhammadu Buhari had described it as a National Plan which has gone through wide consultations.
The endorsement of the Governors at Thursday’s meeting of the National Economic Council follows the President’s description of the Sustainability Plan.
The 105th meeting of the National Economic Council, chaired by the Vice President, had several governors, ministers and heads of MDAs including the CBN Governor and the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, in attendance.
Briefing journalists at the end of the meeting, Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-rufai, who is also the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum ad-hoc committee on the collaborative implementation of the NESP, commended the Osinbajo-led ESC for a job well-done and noted that State governors were committed to the successful implementation of the plan.
“In agriculture, each state is to make available 20 hectares of land for cultivation and with the contribution of lands from states, governors will appreciate land clearance as an incentive.
“In Mass housing, NEC welcomes the plan to build 300,000 housing units across the country with an average of ten thousand homes per State,” El-rufai said while also calling for a nationwide mortgage system to support the plan.
Continuous provision of essential health services
Also briefing journalists on the recommendations of the interim report of the NEC adhoc committee interfacing with the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 to ease the lockdown, the Committee Chairman and Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa said that the committee recommended that the Minister of Health should ensure the continuous provision of all essential health services in-order to ensure that people do not die from other diseases needlessly.
Presenting his report, Okowa said “the Presidential Task Force PTF should provide the operating guidelines to the states to enable them domesticate same given their peculiarities, norms and traditions, especially in opening of markets, religious places and schools etc”.
He noted that the major recommendation arising from the meeting is the proposed health workers allowance being planned by the Federal Ministry of Health.
“The ‘Hazard’ allowance should not be imposed on states but presented with general guidance to enable each state negotiate with its health workers based on its ability to pay”, Governor Okowa said.
He added that the Committee’s interim report presented to NEC recommends “that there should be rapid testing, tracing, isolation and treatment, and the NCDC and PTF should provide each state with laboratory testing facilities and ensure effective sample collection”.
Balance of Nigeria’s special accounts
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, also reported to council the balances in Nigeria’s special accounts.
According to her, the balance in the Excess Crude Account as at July 7 2020 was $72,406,952.48, while Stabilization Account had N40, 310,991,995.15.
Mrs. Ahmed also reported that the Natural Resources Development Fund Account had a balance of N131, 598,414,041.89 as at July 7 2020.
Other presentations at Thursday’s NEC meeting included the report on Polio and the Covid-19 pandemic.(VON)
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