By Emmanuel Oloniruha
Abuja – The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) said it was committed to State Health Insurance Scheme for efficient primary healthcare system that would deliver priority health needs to Nigerians.
Chairman of the Forum, Gov. Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara, stated this on Thursday while briefing the media on the outcome of the forum’s meeting held on Wednesday night in Abuja.
Yari, who read the communique from the meeting, said the forum received briefing on ”Roadmap to Achieving Universal Health Coverage at the Subnational Level.”
He said that governors pledged to maintain ongoing reforms, including domesticating the State Health Insurance Scheme to achieve strong and efficient primary healthcare systems that would deliver priority health needs to all Nigerians.
Yari said the forum pledged to work with the National Assembly to ensure the inclusion of States Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) project in the external borrowing plan.
He said that the forum would also collaborate with World Bank on SFTAS projects to strengthen ongoing fiscal reforms at sub-national level to achieve better public-sector management and fiscal sustainability.
“Governors noted that the effective implementation of the SFTAS project will substantially increase available fiscal resources for productive public spending at the State level in the medium-term.
“We also believe that it will help state governments to strengthen domestic revenue mobilization, public investment and debt sustainability,’’ he said.
Fielding questions from journalists, Yari said that the forum was yet to receive harmonised report on minimum wage from its members in the Federal Government committee on the matter.
He said that forum was represented in the committee by governors of Kebbi, Plateau, Gombe, Osun, Imo and Rivers.
The chairman disclosed that the governors declined request by Presidents of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) to interact with them at the meeting.
According to him, it is only when we receive that report that we can interact.
“Governor of Kebbi will coordinate the report and our work will commence so that we have the harmonized report for next meeting to enable us to send our input to the Federal Government committee.”
On deadlock in the meeting of Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC), Yari said that there was no rift between the governors and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) as being reported.
He explained that the issue was disagreement in the figures presented by the corporation.
According to him, the governors were not comfortable with irregularities and discrepancies in monthly remittances, amounts for subsidies and cost of maintenance being withdrawn at will by the NNPC.
“You cannot just deep hands into public money and say this is what you are going to do.
“You either seek the approval of the National Executive Council or the president, but you took the money at your discretion without approval.
“NNPC is owned by federal, state and local governments. The states and local governments have 48 per cent and Federal Government 52 per cent. Therefore, we need to speak out when we disagree.
“We are not quarrelling but we are having disagreement on the numbers and we are saying NNPC should return this money for public sharing. If that one is settled FAAC will go ahead.
“It is not that we are comfortable. Tomorrow, if they bring another number we will say no because it is public purse,” Yari said.
He expressed the forum’s condolence to the people and government of Sokoto, Kastina and Ogun states over recent attacks and disasters which claimed lives and property in the states.
He said that the proposed meeting between governors and security chiefs had not held because some of the security bosses critical to the discussion were away on national assignments outside the country.
“Some just came back last night and some are still outside the country.
“This is why we have not been able to have it, but we are still on the agenda to meet the security chiefs so that we can discuss the issue of security nationwide.”