The Northern States Governors’ Forum has called for a coordinated response to the COVID-19 Pandemic ravaging the country.
The call was made during a meeting which was conducted via teleconference and chaired by the forum’s chairman, Governor Simon Bako Lalong of Plateau State in Jos the state capital.
The meeting discussed various issues including experience sharing on measures adopted by individual states to deal with the disease.
“After receiving reports 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 that there is synergy among them in movement restriction.
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”, Lalong said.
The forum agreed to adopt the measure suitable to its setting because the 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.
Palliative measures not received
The forum expressed displeasure that so far no northern state has received the palliative measures from the federal government.
“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 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”, Lalong said.
They canvassed for special funds from the federal government as it has been granted to other states.
The forum said the region has no testing centres which is very disturbing.
“We resolved to liaise with the federal government to ensure that each state at least gets one testing centre while highly populated ones get two”, Lalong said.
Economic impact of COVID-19
Governor Lalong said the forum 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. Also to prepare for the future by diversifying the areas of comparative advantage such as Agriculture, Manufacturing, Tourism and Human Capital Development.
“Consequently, we set up a seven-man committee chaired by Governor of Kebbi State Atiku Abubakar Bagudu to fashion out the way forward. Other members are Governors of Kaduna, Sokoto, Kwara, Nasarawa, Jigawa, Gombe and Nasarawa states”, he said.
The Northern Governors commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the measures taken so far to deal with the pandemic and promised to do their part in working with the federal government to overcome the disease.
They also commended the citizens of the region for supporting various directives of the state governments in dealing with the situation, asking them to endure the situation, as it is a global emergency.