The Northern Governors’ Forum has met over the COVID-19 pandemic, calling for a coordinated response to tackle the virus in the region.
Chairman of the forum and Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong chaired the meeting via a teleconference.
The governors met on Monday to discuss the impact of the virus in the region, stressing that they cannot lock down the entire north.
In a statement issued by the Director of Press and Public Affairs to Plateau Governor, Simon Macham, members of the Forum resolved to strengthen preventive measures against the pandemic.
Part of these measures include enhanced border controls and surveillance as well as greater collaboration to ensure that there is synergy among them in movement restriction.
While noting that the lockdown in some states in the region had varying levels of success, the governors also raised concerns that enforcing cross-border movements remains a challenge as some of the cases recorded in some states were imported from outside despite the closure of borders by their respective governments.
They agreed that each state would adopt the measure suitable to its setting, stressing that a 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 as the rains have started.
Regarding palliatives from the Federal Government, the northern leaders regretted that so far, no state in the region has received a dime as special allocation.
They argued that some states have recorded coronavirus cases while others are making frantic efforts to prevent any outbreak as well as prepare against any eventuality.
Lamenting that the virus has caused a huge financial burden on them, the governors believe that they may not be able to sustain this for a long time.
They resolved that Governor Lalong will liaise with the Federal Government through the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha and the private sector to benefit from available palliatives and donations.
As for testing centres, the governors complained that the region has no testing centres, which to them is very disturbing.
Moving forward, 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.