The Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), has asked the minister of communication, Isa Pantami, to provide it with data to help identify 'vulnerable' persons across the country. Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti, the NGF chairman, said this at the end of the Forum’s fourth COVID-19 teleconferencing.
The details of the meeting were made available via a copy of the communique on Thursday.
“The Forum received update from the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, on the response of his ministry to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Including support to State Governments to help them identify vulnerable persons through a data mining study coordinated by the Nigerian Communications Commission with the support of telecommunications providers in the country.”
Recently, there have been controversies on how the federal government through the National Social Investment Programmes was able to identify the vulnerable members of the population benefiting from the palliatives.
President Muhammadu Buhari had ordered a 14-day lockdown in Abuja and Lagos, as well as Ogun State due to its proximity to Lagos. Mr Buhari said the most vulnerable people affected by the lockdown would be assisted.
The Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs subsequently announced the distribution of the first tranche of N5 billion.
But the leadership of the National Assembly on Tuesday criticised the approach adopted in the distribution social grants to the vulnerable Nigerians who suffer the impact of the coronavirus lockdown.
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, called for legislation for the programme in line with what it said was global best practices.
In reaction to the National Assembly’s assertions, an irate senior special adviser to the president on social investment, Maryam Uwais, in a release she issued on Wednesday, described the lawmakers’ claims as false, regrettable and dangerous.
She also alluded to the fact that the lawmakers were not happy with the scheme because they could not manipulate the process.
She explained that the beneficiaries are captured under the National Social Register (NSR), through “a poverty mapping of the LGAs in each state, community mobilisation, targeting and identification supported by trained enumerators at State and LGA levels.”
She also said state governors were equally carried along in the process.
The lawmakers have since reacted to her comments, saying their own comments were taken out of context and misunderstood by the aide.
Governors wade in
In the NGF communique, Mr Fayemi said the forum resolved to use all data from the communication ministry to target palliatives to the most vulnerable persons the country.
“The forum commended the Minister for taking a functional role in the COVID-19 response and assured him of their resolve to use all relevant data available to target palliatives to the most vulnerable persons in the most effective and efficient manner,” Mr Fayemi said.
Read the full NGF Statement
Issued at the end of the 4th COVID-19 teleconference meeting of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum held on Thursday, April 9, 2020
We, member of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) at our meeting held today deliberated on the COVID-19 pandemic in he country and resolved as follows:
1. The NGF Chairman briefed State Governors on ongoing COVID-19 coordination efforts between the Forum and various organisations including the Presidential Task Force to the COVID-19 Coalition Against COVID (CACOVID) and MTN.
2. The Forum received update from the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, on the response of his ministry to the COVID-19 pandemic, including support to State Governments to help them identify vulnerable persons through a data mining study coordinated by the Nigerian Communications Commission with the support of telecommunications providers in the country.
3. The Forum commended the Minister for taking a functional role in the COVID-19 response and assured him of their resolve to use all relevant data available to target palliatives to the most vulnerable persons in the most effective and efficient manner.
4. Governors are taking necessary measures to strengthen operations in their Emergency Communication Centres (ECCs) to improve the communication response between distressed citizens and Emergency Response Agencies (ERAs) including the State Emergency Agency, ambulances, police, Fire Service and the Federal Road safety Corps. Operations will be resident in the ECCs to process distress calls and contact relevant ERAs.
5. Finally, following an update from Olubayo Adekanmi, Chief Transformation Officer, MTN Nigeria on ongoing work with the NGF Secretariat to estimate the vulnerability profile of all States based on their populations, age risk, international travel profile, population density and state contiguity, epidemiological metrics and spending patterns. Governors resolved to adopt the new data to strengthen the distribution of palliatives put in place and support from various organisations and persons.
Governor Kayode Fayemi, Chairman, NGF, 9th April, 2020
By Kunle Sanni,