The Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) has appealed to the Kaduna State Government and the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) to tow the path of peace.
The forum, chaired by the Ekiti State governor, Kayode Fayemi, made this known in a communique issued at the end of its meeting on Wednesday.
“On the Labour crisis in Kaduna State, the NGF noted that it stands with the Governor of Kaduna State in his quest to improve the productivity of workers and their rights for a better quality of life.
“NGF recognizes that what is happening in Kaduna State, will reverberate in each of the States and encourages the Governor of Kaduna and all other Governors to remain steadfast in the pursuit of human rights protection while ensuring that actions taken do not undermine the safety and security of lives.
“NGF appeals to both parties in Kaduna State to resolve the issues in the interest of the State as the protection of human rights for the collective good of all citizens and growth of our dear country, Nigeria, is what matters most,” the communique read.
The face-off between the state government and the NLC heightened after the union commenced a five-day warning strike to protest the government’s plans to lay off some of its civil servants on Monday.
The government, on the other hand, said it will not shift grounds, stating that the measure is to lessen the fiscal burden of the state.
The NLC, however, suspended the industrial action on Wednesday after the intervention of the Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige, who requested parties to sheathe swords for a federal government-mediated negotiation to hold in Abuja.
Meanwhile, the NGF has resolved to put the necessary legal frameworks and institutions in place for States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability, and Sustainability (SFTAS).
SFTAS is a World Bank support and intervention designed to support Nigerian states implement a Fiscal Sustainability Plan.
The forum said this in a communiqué issued on Wednesday night after its 30th teleconference.
It also agreed on the need for states to meet their SFTAS obligations.
It noted that the governors at the meeting received presentations from the World Bank team led by the Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, on the Nigeria COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus – Programme for Results (Nigeria CARES) and SFTAS.
It stated that the World Bank team commended the commitment and actions of state governors for establishing and resourcing CARES programme State Coordinating Units under their ministries of Planning.
It stated that the bank, however, requested the governors’ additional support in areas such as the adoption of a fund release policy for improved predictability of resources flow to CARES delivery MDAs.
The bank also called for governors’ support on adoption and institutionalisation of protocols for reporting, management and investigation of fraud and corruption in MDAs implementing CARES.
Other areas of expected support include the release of 2021 State budgets to MDAs for the commencement of CARES-related activities.
“The Bank also urged the support of governors to ensure that their ministries of finance and ministries of justice fast track the execution of subsidiary agreements for the CARES programme,” said the communique.
It noted that updates on the SFTAS programme showed that targets for results and disbursements on the 2018 and 2019 Annual Performance Assessments (APA) and new COVID-19 2020 Disbursement Linked Indicators (DLIs) had been exceeded.
“For the SFTAS 2020 APA and new COVID-19 DLIs, all 36 states are on track to fully meet the eligibility criteria of having a National Chart of Account (NCOA) compliant FY2021 budget published online by January 31, 2021.
“Under the SFTAS Programme for Results, 23 States have already passed strong state-level debt legislation,” it said.
The legislation stipulates the responsibilities for contracting, recording/reporting state debt; as well as state fiscal and debt rules/limits.
The forum, however, said a strong collective commitment was made for the remaining 13 States to pass such state-level debt legislation by December 31.
This was to help Nigeria successfully meet the World Bank Sustainable Debt Financing Policy (SDFP) by strengthening debt management, debt transparency and fiscal responsibility at the state level.
The communiqué added that NGF SFTAS Programme Lead, Olanrewaju Ajogbasile, provided key lessons that accounted for the success of performing states in the implementation of the SFTAS programme.
These, according to Mr Ajogbasile, included the institutionalisation of a steering committee, high-level monitoring and ownership.
It also included regular briefings to the state governor or state executive council; a dedicated budget under the ministry of finance to support SFTAS operations.
It also includes an incentivised environment for state government officials working on SFTAS activities, and provision of basic ICT infrastructure arrangements for focal MDAs to ensure that they are able to access remote technical assistance and meet reform actions in time.
The communiqué added that Mr Fayemi, briefed the forum on an ongoing consolidation exercise between NGF and the Budget Office of the Federation to consolidate public finance data of the federal, states and local governments into a national budget portal.
Mr Fayemi urged his colleagues to share details of their local government budgets and financial statements in addition to State government data already published.
It added that the forum received a presentation from Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammed Nanono, on the second phase of farmer enumeration for the Agric for Food and Jobs Plan (AFJP).
Newsmen report that AFJP is a component of the Nigerian Economic Sustainability Plan (NESP) approved by President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on June 24, 2020.
The programme is designed to help mitigate the impact of COVID 19 on smallholder farmers and the entire agricultural value chain.
The second phase of the enumeration targets the registration of up to 10 million farmers in the AFJP database.
To boost food production, 2.4 million smallholder farmers were initially targeted for registration to be provided with input funding, with about 30,000 N power (N Agro) graduates engaged and trained to carry out the farmer registration.