Governors of the 36 states of the federation have called on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to suspend all funds’ deductions from states and restructure their debt repayments.
The governors, after a teleconference held on Wednesday under the auspices of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), urged President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the suspension of the deductions of debts owed by the states till the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The teleconference was the second this week, coming after a similar one on Monday during which they resolved to hold their weekly meetings via teleconferencing as part of the efforts to check the spread of the pandemic in the country.
The governors also called on the CBN to restructure all debts owed to the federal government by the states.
They also said they would meet with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to resolve the legality of the closure of interstate borders.
In a communiqué issued yesterday by NGF Chairman, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, the governors said after their meeting with the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, on fiscal measures taken by the federal government to mitigate the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the forum called for urgent fiscal measures to safeguard the liquidity of states.
According to them, the measures to be taken to safeguard the liquidity of states include the acceleration of an arrangement to suspend all state deductions and restructure all debt service payments on federal government and CBN-owned debts.
The communique stated: “The forum called for urgent fiscal measures to safeguard the liquidity of state governments, including the acceleration of an arrangement to suspend all state deductions and restructure all debt service payments on the federal government and CBN-owned debts.
“Members also resolved to leverage on the lockdown situations to send essential food items across borders as part of the palliatives so that perishables produced in one state get to states that need them unhindered.
“Members also discussed the legality or otherwise of lockdowns in states around the country and resolved to maintain the status quo until the Chairman and Governor of Ekiti State resolves the matter with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.”
It added that the governors also received a briefing from the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development, Mrs. Sadiya Farouq, on stimulus incentives from the federal government to support vulnerable households across the states to cope with the expected loss of income and livelihoods in the coming months.
It expressed the governors’ commitment to leading the effort through state focal persons in charge of social protection to ensure that palliatives, including food and cash transfers, reach the most vulnerable population in all states.
Against the criticisms that followed the closure of borders by some states, the forum said governors had discussed the legality or otherwise of lockdowns in other states and resolved to maintain the status quo until Ekiti State governor resolves the matter with the presidential task force on COVID-19.
The communique said the governors would meet again next Wednesday to review the situation in the country and make further decisions.