From Yusuf Mairiga Shekarau, Jos
The Northern Governor’s Forum on Monday met to discuss issues relating to Covid-19 pandemic and how it is affecting the region with a view to sharing experience and coming up with a coordinated response.
A statement by Dr. Makut Simon Macham, Media Aide to the NGF Chairman and Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong has confirmed that “the meeting, which was conducted via teleconference and chaired by the Forum’s Chairman, Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State, discussed various issues including experience sharing on measures adopted by individual states to deal with the disease.
The statement said, “after exhaustive briefings from various states, the Forum resolved to strengthen preventive measures against the pandemic through enhanced border controls and surveillance as well as greater collaboration to ensure synergy among them in imposing restriction.
The statement added, “so far, the lockdown in some States in the region has had varying levels of success, but also raised concerns that enforcing cross-border movements remains a challenge as some of the cases recorded in some states were imported from outside despite the closure of borders by states.”
NGF agreed that at the moment, each State would adopt the measure suitable to its setting because total lockdown of the region will come at a very high cost since most of its citizens are farmers who need to go to farms since the rains have started.
The NGF equally considered 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.
The statement holds that the NGF chairman was mandated 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.
In respect of 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 Governors also discussed the economic impact of Covid-19 on the region and 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.
A 7-man Committee chaired by Governor of Kebbi State Atiku Abubakar Bagudu to fashion out the way forward was consequently set up.