The Northern Governors Forum has met to further discuss issues relating to the development of the region

Governor of Plateau State Simon Bako Lalong

The virtual meeting held on Wednesday 9th September 2020 was presided over by Chairman of the Forum and Governor of Plateau State Simon Bako Lalong.

On Covid-19, the Northern Governors were happy with the level of awareness and testing particularly as all the States of the region now have testing centres. They however resolved to sustain community engagement to prevent further spread of the disease particularly in rural areas.

They were also briefed on the order for mobile testing vans which they made saying once they are supplied, they will help in diagnosing about 30 clinical conditions including HIV, TB, HEPATITIS, EBOLA among others.

The Economic Blueprint Committee headed by the Governor of Kebbi State Atiku Bagudu briefed the forum that a document has been developed encompassing the present economic situation of the region and highlighting how to harness its many potentials particularly during the post-Covid era. The report will soon be presented formally.

The Governors also reviewed the success of the ban on Almajiri phenomenon in the North and concluded that it was a success as the children were evacuated to their States of origin to reunite with their families and guardians.

To further consolidate on this success and ensure that the children are given proper education and care, the Northern Governors received briefing from Mariam Uwais, Special Adviser to the President on Social Investments who explained that the Federal Government was willing to partner with the Northern Governors in the process of ensuring that the children are given a smooth transition from the Almajiri system to formal education.

She said the plan is to ensure that proper data is generated so that the children will be kept in a school environment for about 6 to 9 months and be given intense basic education and skills to enable them fit into the new perspective which will prepare them for the classroom and formal school system. She said those who are a bit older and may want to go into trade and other vocations will also be trained.

The Forum also received briefing from Mohammed Alqassim Yahaya of Ansarudeen Global Resources, Consultants engaged by the Governors to conduct detailed research on the Almajiri phenomenon in the region so as to generate relevant statistics that will assist them deal with the situation conclusively. Yahaya said they were still harvesting the data which was slowed down by the corona virus pandemic and assured that before March 2021, the data will be ready. The Governors asked for speedy work on the assignment to keep pace with developments on the subject.

Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Paullen Tallen also addressed the Northern Governors on the girl child in Northern Nigeria where she stressed that educating the girl child is the best way to reduce the burden of the region be it poverty, illiteracy or disease.

She appealed to the Governors to fast track the domestication of the Child Rights Act in the region as ten States in the North are yet to domesticate the law, long after it was enacted at the Federal Level.

The Minister also called on them to do same for the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act which only few States have domesticated in order to tackle the rising cases of rape and other crimes against women particularly in the North. She also raised an alarm over the proliferation of orphanages in the region which are increasingly being used for child trafficking.

World Bank Country Director Shubham Chaudhuri and Aisha Garba Mohammed, Education Specialist were also invited to brief the Northern Governors on the Bank’s interventions in the region in the areas of education, health and empowerment.

They said that some of the bank’s empowerment programmes in the region are focused on women and girls and the Governors are key drivers for implementation. They explained that the 500 million dollars grant recently announced for six States has five from the North as beneficiaries which will be targeted towards improving education by constructing and renovating over 5000 schools close to the communities, support for poor families, and social engagement to change orientations that hinder access to schooling particularly for the girl child.
Francis Lahnim Kusa