Following the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID19) pandemic in the region, Northern States Governors’ Forum has met to chart the way forward as the country battles to curb the spread of the virus.
The governors, in the meeting, which was conducted via teleconference and presided over by the Chairman of the Forum and Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, shared experiences on measures adopted by individual states to arrest the pandemic.
According to a statement by the Director of Press and Public Affairs to Plateau State Governor, Dr Macham Makut, on Monday, following reports received from various states, the governors resolved to intensify measures to prevent their respective states from the pandemic through enhanced boundary controls and surveillance.
They also resolved to also collaborate to ensure that there was a synergy among them in the restriction of movements across their states.
The statement said:
They (northern governors) 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.
Another issue discussed by the northern governors was the issue of palliatives from the Federal Government where they regretted that so far, no state in the region had 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 grant them some special funds just as it has done to other states.
The northern governors lamented that the region has no testing centre, 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 holistic 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.
They consequently set up a seven-man committee chaired by the Governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu, to fashion out the way forward.
Other members are the governors of Kaduna, Sokoto, Kwara, Nasarawa, Jigawa, Gombe and Nasarawa states.”
The meeting of the governors is coming on the heels of President Muhammad Buhari’s assurance of his government’s commitment in the fight against the scourge, during a nationwide broadcast on Monday.