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Give us own share of COVID-19 fund, Northern governors tell Buhari

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…say NO to lockdown of the region

…no testing centre in the 19 states

Citing the Federal Government’s N10 billion intervention fund to Lagos State to fight COVID-19, the Northern Governors Forum (NGF) has demanded its own share to combat the spread of the virus in the region.

Arising from their teleconferencing on Monday, the Forum Chairman and Plateau Governor, Mr Simon Lalong, said the states in the North also require special funds to assist them in the fight against the global pandemic.

Persecondnews recalls that President Buhari had in March released N10 billion for Lagos State being the epic centre of coronavirus.

Rivers Governor Nyesom Wike had made similar demand, accusing the federal government of discriminating against non-APC states.

Lalong said: “The fund will assist us in the frantic efforts to prevent any outbreak as well as prepare against any eventuality.

“Another issue discussed by the northern governors was the issue of palliatives from the Federal Government where they regretted that so far, no state in the region had received a dime as special allocation 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 they observed 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.

“Since prevention is better than cure, we canvassed that the Federal Government grants them some special funds just as it has done to other states.’’

The spokesman of the governors said the forum would liaise with the federal government and the private sector with a view to benefiting from palliatives and donations.

According to Lalong, the region was making efforts to diversify its economy by concentrating on areas of its comparative advantage to reduce over dependence on federal government allocations.

On why the region cannot be lockdown, the governor said a total lockdown might be detrimental, pointing out that most people in the region are farmers who need to cultivate their farms especially as the rainy season begins.

“We agreed that at the moment each state would adopt the measure suitable to its setting because 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.’’

Lalong said the region would strengthen border controls and surveillance as well as collaborations for a synergy in enforcing movement restrictions.

The NGF chairman announced that each state was allowed to “adopt suitable measures peculiar to its environment’’.

“The northern governors lamented that the region has no testing centre, which is very disturbing. We resolved to again liaise with the Federal Government to ensure that each state at least gets one testing centre while highly populated ones get two.’’

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