The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) says it will engage Vice President and Chairman, National Economic Council, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, to facilitate states’ representation in the implementation committee of Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP).

The 36 state governors disclosed this in a communiqué issued on Thursday in Abuja by the NGF Chairman and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, after its 12th COVID-19 teleconference meeting.

The governors also advocated for the need to revitalise Nigeria’s Mortgage Bank to support the government’s ambitious housing programme, and the importance of the N2 trillion Nigeria Infrastructure Investment Fund to stimulate the economy.

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It noted that the forum endorsed the work of Gov. Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State-led NGF Sub-Committee on COVID-19, which earlier provided an update on the implementation of the Final Report of the NEC ad-hoc Committee on COVID-19.

The report, according to the communique, contains the “Outbreak and Responding to the Adverse Economic Effects”, which was presented to Osinbajo in March 2020.

It quoted El-Rufai noting that the recommendations of the report have been integrated into the Nigeria ESP.

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The governors also resolved to collaborate with the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to support the implementation of the National Gas Expansion Programme through a statewide adoption of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG).

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The forum also resolved to ease gas pipeline right-of-way applications and encouraging the micro stove assembly for small businesses, including facilitating training for gas operators.

“NGF also resolved to collaborate with the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) to ensure the implementation of the five per cent user charge on the pump price of petrol and the international vehicle transit charge to better fund road projects in Nigeria.

The communique noted that Oliver Stolpe, Country Representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Nigeria, and Dr Yemi Kale, Statistician General, National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) at the meeting presented findings of the second Corruption Survey in Nigeria.

“The survey showed that the incidence of bribery had decreased since 2016 when the survey was first conducted, from 32.3 per cent to 30.2 per cent.

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“Although the second corruption survey focused on Federal Government agencies, NGF members resolved to collaborate with UNODC to strengthen public complaints mechanisms across State MDAs.

“This is given that state institutions, businesses and households are affected by bribe seeking among public sector officials.”

It disclosed that the governor also endorsed the report of NGF Sub-Committee led by Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta, interfacing with the PTF on COVID-19 to provide a coordinated strategy between the Federal and State Governments to ease the lockdown and open the economy.

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The forum encouraged state governments to ramp up testing to curb the spread of the virus especially amongst those with pre-existing conditions and the elderly, given the rise in the community spread of coronavirus cases with mild or no symptom.

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It stated that the meeting deliberated on the COVID-19 pandemic and the new strategy being rolled out by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) to address the spread of the pandemic.

“Local Government Areas with high burden of diseases (Hotspot) have been identified and targeted with interventions.

“They are targeted with interventions such as increased testing and promotion of non-pharmaceutical intervention including hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, mandatory masking in public and partial or total lockdown restricting movement,” it stated.