The nation’s 36 Governors have faulted the National Water Resources Bill recently reintroduced to the National Assembly for consideration.

The Governors, at a teleconference meeting of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) on Tuesday, contended not only did the Bill inadequately address the interests of the States, but its propositions are also inconsistent with the Constitution.

In a communique issued at the end of the meeting, the Governors “argued that the Bill does not adequately address the interests of the states and is inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
‘The Bill should be reviewed with a view to accommodating the concerns of all States.’

The Governors, who entertained presentations from the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammad Abubakar; Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire and Minister of Finance, Budget & National Planning, Mrs. (Dr.) Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, agreed to cooperate with the Federal Government on measures to address growing health, economic and food challenges.

Part of the communique, signed by the NGF Chairman, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti, reads: “The Forum received presentations from the Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Dr. Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar, on the Livestock Productivity and Resilience Support Project (LPRES) – a 6-year US$500 million World Bank programme aimed at improving the productivity, commercialization, and resilience of targeted livestock production systems in Nigeria.

“Governors unanimously decided to spearhead the programme in their states, particularly in areas such as institutional and innovation systems strengthening, livestock value-chain enhancement, crisis prevention and conflict mitigation, and project coordination.

“The Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget & National Planning, Mrs. (Dr.) Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed presented the draft 2023 – 2025 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) as part of the consultative process in the development of the federal government’s fiscal policy and to share relevant macroeconomic and fiscal assumptions to help States prepare their Economic and Fiscal Update (EFU), FSP and Budget Policy Statement (BPS).

“Following the presentation, Governors had a robust discussion with priority given to the government’s response to the fallouts of the Russia-Ukraine war (including inflation and the rising food and nutrition crises), the continued impact of the PMS subsidy on the fiscal headroom of governments, implications of NNPC’s new transition on federation revenues, as well as the widening divergence between the official and parallel market rate of the dollar on the currency.

“The Honourable Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, addressed the forum on available Global Fund support to state governments designed to revamp Primary Healthcare Centers, State Healthcare Centers, Ambulance Services and Drug Management Support in states.

“Members resolved to work with the federal ministry of health to actualize this initiative.

“The State Action on Business Enabling Reforms (SABER) programme was presented by Dr Jumoke Oduwole, Special Adviser to the President on Ease of Doing Business.

“SABER is a three-year performance-based intervention jointly designed by the World Bank Technical team and the PEBEC Secretariat with support from the Federal Ministry of Finance Budget and National Planning (FMFBNP), Home Finance Department (HFD) and the NGF Secretariat to incentivise and strengthen the implementation of business enabling reforms across Nigeria.

“SABER is technically a successor to State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability And Sustainability ( SFTAS ).

“In line with the objectives of the programme, the Forum endorsed the programme and committed to set up an Ad-hoc Committee to steer the implementation of the programme in all States of the Federation.

“In furtherance to meeting the goals of the Seattle Declaration, the Forum committed to mobilising their state and local government teams for the PHC Leadership Challenge.

“Specific commitments include that PHC performance will be addressed at the State Executive Council level, Governors will conduct visits to PHC facilities, Governors will hold meetings with traditional leaders to discuss PHC, Deputy Governors will chair PHC taskforces, while State committees will be set up on food and nutrition.”