The Northern States Governors’ Forum says it cannot lockdown their states over the Coronavirus pandemic.
In a meeting conducted via teleconference and chaired by the forum’s Chairman, Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State on Monday April 13, the state governors said having a lockdown in the region is not possible as most of the residents are farmers who need to go to their farms.
A statement released by the Plateau state governor’s Director of Press and Public Affairs, Dr Macham Makut, said the governors in the meeting expressed disappointment that the region has few testing centers for the Coronavirus.
The statement in part reads “They (northern governors) 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.
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, they canvassed that the Federal Government grant them some special funds just as it has done to other states. The northern governors lamented that the region has no testing centre, which is very disturbing.
They 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.
The governors also discussed the economic impact of COVID-19 on the region and decided that they needed to take a holistic look at the economic prospects of the region with a view to repositioning it for less reliance on federal allocation and to prepare for the future by diversifying to areas of comparative advantage such as agriculture, manufacturing, tourism and human capital development.
They consequently set up a seven-man committee chaired by the Governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu, to fashion out the way forward. “Other members are the governors of Kaduna, Sokoto, Kwara, Nasarawa, Jigawa, Gombe and Nasarawa states.” Bauchi, Kano, Kaduna, Katsina, Niger, Benue, Kwara, have all recorded confirmed cases of Coronavirus while Sokoto, Adamawa, Kogi, Yobe, Plateau, Nasarawa, Taraba, Kebbi, Gombe and Jigawa states are yet to recorded any confirmed case of Coronavirus.