State governors, ministers and other members of the National Economic Council (NEC) on Friday unanimously debunked claims by their colleague and Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki, that the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) printed N60 billion to support the Federal Government meet its funding commitment to the Federation Account in March.
At the end of its fourth meeting in 2021, the Council, presided by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, declared as outright falsehood the claim as reported in secrions of the media.
The Council came to the conclussion after receiving and reviewing presentations on the issue from the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, and the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele.
In a unanimous resolution, the Council affirmed that no money was printed to shore up allocation from the Federation Account to the three tiers of government for March.
“The Governors, having critically reviewed the matter, unanimously expressed satisfaction with clarifications made by the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) represented by its Chairman, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, Finance Minister, Hajiya Zainab Ahmed and the Central Bank Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele.
“While the Finance Minister categorically debunked that Naira was printed to back up allocation last month, the CBN Governor fully supported the position of the minister, and the Chairman of NGF also noted that he knew no such thing happened at all,” the Council said its statement at the end of the meeting.
On the issue of renewed agitations in parts of the country, the Council emphasized the need to address the problems, so as not to allow the minority to hijack the mainstream of opinion.
“These agitations are common with countries with huge and diverse populations like ours,” the Council noted.
While urging State governments “to hold regular consultations and dialogues on the issues and report back by the next meeting, the Council assured that a firm position would be taken on the recommendations of a national townhall meeting on Enhanced Security and National Unity recently held in Kaduna.
Even where there are no agitations, NEC urged all States to hold wider consultations with their people to have diverse opinions on burning issues, taking into consideration local peculiarities and report back to NEC the outcome of such consultations.
After the planned State-wide consultations, the Council resolved that a national consensus would be reached on the recommendations of the national town hall meeting which included the adoption of State Police, among other matters.
In attendance were State governors, the FCT Minister, along with his counterparts in Finance, Transportation, Information, Aviation and Water Resources Ministries as well as the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Clem Agba.
Other highlights during the meeting included updates by the Finance Minister on government finances in various accounts.
In her presentation, the Minister said the balance in the Excess Crude Oil Revenue Account (ECA) as at April 22, 2021 stood at about N72.41billion, the balance in the Stabilization Account on the same date was about N23.3billion and N77.74billion in the Natural Resources Development Account.
On the budget support facility granted by the Federal to the State governments in the wake of the outbreak of coronavirus last year, the Finance Minister said the deductions for repayment by States would resume in May.
The state governors however requested for an extension of time for the repayment considering the economic challenges the States are facing.
The CBN governor explained the technical in further postponing the repayment of the facility by the states.
Consequently, at the end of deliberations, the VP directed that a meeting be held soon for the issue to be properly considered and a decision reached.
The VP would preside over the meeting, while the governors would be represented by the NGF Chairman and Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, with the Finance Minister and the CBN governor in attendance.
During the meeting, the Council also received a presentation on the current status of water, sanitation, and hygiene services level across the country as revealed by the 2019 WASH National Outcome Routine Mapping (WASH-NORM II) survey jointly carried out by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and National Bureau of Statistics in collaboration with UNICEF.
Under the 2019 survey, six modules were adopted, namely Households, comprising Water Quality assessments and household WASH; Water Facilities, WASH in Educational Facilities, WASH in Health facilities and WASH in Public places (markets and motor parks), and Water Utilities and Consumer Satisfaction Survey.
Key findings from 2019 WASH-NORM survey included tha the percentage of the population with access to basic water supply services has steadily increased from 67 percent in 2015 to 68 percent in 2018, and 70 percent in 2019.
In terms of population figures, these changes equate to about nine million more people gaining access to basic water supply services between 2018 and 2019, with only14 percent of the population having access to safely managed drinking water supply services, about up to 171 million Nigerians still off the sustainable development goals (SDG) target of 6.1 percent.
On access to sanitation, indicators across the country show a slight improvement, as 44 percent of the population were found to have access to basic sanitation services in 2019, compared to 42 percent in 2018.
Only 17 percent of the population use improved sanitation facilities that have proper handwashing facilities with soap, while the number of people practicing open defecation marginally changed from 24 percent in 2018 to 23 percent in 2019, meaning about 46 million people still defecating in the open.
Also, about 27 percent of markets and motor parks have access to basic water supply services, with accessibility of persons living with disabilities very low at 17 percent. About a quarter of markets and motor parks (24 percent) have access to basic sanitation services and slightly more than half (53 percent) of markets and motor parks do not have toilets for public use.
About 28 of 36 States, plus FCT have urban water utilities, out of which only 16 are functional and producing water for the people.
The functional 16 State Water Agencies (SWA) have a total number of 1,171 water works, with 41 percent operational.
Welcoming the key findings from the 2019 WASH-NORM survey, the Council noted that the Ministry has commenced the third round of WASH-NORM Survey in 2021 and was urging all the States and FCT to support the process.
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