By Emmanuel Oloniruha
The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) has adopted a uniform model for the implementation of the Memorandum of Action on the financial autonomy of the legislative bodies and the judiciary in the states.
The forum announced this in a communiqué signed by its chairman and Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi on Thursday evening in Abuja after its 32nd conference call.
He noted that the bill was signed with the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) and the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASUN) to facilitate the implementation of financial autonomy for the state legislatures and judiciary.
The template was developed following a joint meeting of the Attorneys General and Finance Commissioners on June 25th on the direction of the Forum.
The forum expressed concern about certain proposed changes by the Senate to the Master Stamp Tax Act.
It noted that the change was aimed at removing the powers to administer and collect stamp taxes from the Federal Inland Revenue Service or its state counterparts, depending on the nature of the transaction, the Nigeria Postal Service.
“The provisions of Section 163 of the 1999 Constitution require that stamp duty be paid to the FIRS and returned to the derivative state on transactions between a company and an individual,” the forum noted when it decided to work with the National Assembly on the issue .
Regarding the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), the communique states that the governors fully support the unbundling and commercialization of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) but are concerned about the proposed ownership structure of the NNPC, which has been turned over to the federal government.
“NGF recommends that, given that it is owned by the three levels of government, NNPC Limited, the newly incorporated company, should be owned by a vehicle that supports the interests of the three levels of government.
“At the moment, the institution that has this mandate is the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA).
“This change, as well as the proposed 3 percent share of oil revenues for the receiving communities and the 30 percent share of profits for exploration for oil and gas in the basins, will be approved by the relevant channels, including the National Assembly and the National Economic Council ( NEC) “, it says in the forum.
The forum also stated that it would comment on the proposed privatization of assets of the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC), as listed by the Bureau for Public Enterprise (BPE), as it did so without due consultation with state governments are also shareholders of the company.
“NDPHC is registered under the Companies and Allied Matters Act as a limited liability company with full federal, state and local ownership mandated to administer National Integrated Power Projects (NIPP) in the country,” the forum noted.
The forum supported the establishment of the NGF Peace and Inclusive Security Initiative (PISI), which was developed to combat insecurity, conflict and violence in the country.
It noted that the July 8 launch of PISI heralded an important milestone for the NGF to build a more inclusive and collaborative platform to advance an urgent nationwide response to security challenges in the country.
The communique noted that Fayemi had briefed governors on the establishment of the National Steering Committee (NSC) of the National Poverty Reduction and Growth Strategy (NPRGS), chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, with a mandate to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty free in 10 years.
It added that state governors were being asked to appoint key individuals who would consolidate state governments’ policies to end poverty in the country.
The key people would be included in a technical working group chaired by Nasarawa State Governor Abdullahi Sule and jointly chaired by Prince Clem Agba, Minister of State for Finance, Budget and Regional Planning, the statement said.
The forum also confirmed it had received an update from Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on the recent surge in confirmed COVID-19 cases and called for amicable action to prevent a third wave in the country.
“Following the update, the forum urged all state governors to revive their COVID-19 logs and work with the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) to take appropriate and immediate action to flatten the transmission curve.
“The forum will work with the President’s Steering Committee on COVID-19 to expedite the processes needed to expedite the delivery of additional vaccines to the country.”
It stated that the meeting also presented an update on State Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability – Program-for-Results (PforR), in addition to another update on the Nigeria COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus – Program for Results (Nigeria CARES), by Ms. Firo Elhassan, NGF Program Manager.
After the update, the forum decided to work with the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and State Planning (FMBNP) and the Federal Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to ensure swift approval and the start of the program in line with the federal states’ budgets for 2021.
Another talk was received from Princess Miriam Onuoha, Chair of the House of Representatives, Committee on Disabilities, on the adoption of the Disability Discrimination Act (Prohibition) (2018).
The forum then announced its commitment to actively support the domestication of the Disability Act in countries where it had not yet been passed through the NGF Secretariat.
As of 2018, at least 12 states had enacted disability laws, including Ekiti, Lagos, Kwara, Kogi, Plateau, Jigawa, Ondo, Bauchi, Anambra, Niger, and River State.
Suburban Fiber Company’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Bruce Ayonote, also gave a presentation on the roadmap for successfully implementing digital transformation in the States, according to the communique.
“The proposal, which aimed to build both hard and soft digital infrastructure for state governments, was welcomed by the governors, who hired the NGF Secretariat to facilitate the planning and partnership process with interested state governments.
“Finally, the forum also received a report on diversification and non-oil export opportunities for post-COVID-19 states from the Bridge Program of the Policy Development Facility (PDF).
The forum welcomed the study and noted that the results of the report would help strengthen states’ diversification agenda.