Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and MTN Nigeria have agreed to use the vulnerability model to drive a data-driven approach to stopping the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country.

Both have reiterated the importance of cancelling all deductions and deferring or restructuring all commercial debt service payments on the Federal Government and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)-owned debts.

The agreement with MTN Nigeria was reached Sunday at the meeting held to deliberate on the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

The approval was given by the governors after the Forum received a presentation from Mazen Mroue, Chief Operating Officer and Olubayo Adekanmbi, Chief Transformation Officer, MTN Nigeria, on the ongoing collaboration with the NGF Secretariat to profile States vulnerability to the spread of the coronavirus based on parameters such as population age and density, travel history, location, income level.

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In a communique signed by Governor Kayode Fayemi, Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum, members also emphasized the necessity for stronger collaboration with States because they are best positioned to administer palliatives to mitigate the impact of the crisis, including the distribution of food and essential materials to households to help them cope with the expected loss of income and livelihoods.

This was following a briefing from the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, on the activities of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 which he chairs, the Forum having commended the SGF and his team for the commitment in leading a national response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Forum expressed appreciation to the Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) set up by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for their pledge to support States increase their capacity to mitigate the spread of the virus and care for confirmed cases through the construction of isolation centres and the distribution of personal protective equipment to States. The governors stressed the need for CACOVID to work directly with the States in the distribution of palliatives.

Governors unanimously supported the unification of exchange rates into a single, market-determined window and the use of the market-determined exchange rate to calculate all revenues due to the federation.

The NGF Chairman had briefed state governors on ongoing coordination with the World Bank to mobilise support for States to mitigate the economic and social cost of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ongoing plans include accelerated disbursement of existing and new financing for States under the State Fiscal, Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) Programme-for-Results, and mitigation and recovery support for expenditures to protect livelihoods, support local economic activity and recovery over the next 18 months to 2 years.

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