The Nigerian Governors Forum has called for the decentralisation of the activities of the COVID-19 response from federal to local governments to curtail further spread of the pandemic. The forum also agreed to an interstate lockdown for two weeks.

The chairman of the forum, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, in a statement he signed, on Wednesday, described the decentralisation idea as the best chance of nipping the spread of the virus in communities.

Mr Fayemi said this was imperative as a result of the increasing number of index cases across communities.

The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, had, during a meeting of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, on Wednesday, raised concerns over the community spread of the ailment.

The minister, therefore, called for an active response towards empowering the primary healthcare sector in the country.

The task force currently coordinates the national response to the deadly pandemic in Nigeria.

Data from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) show that Nigeria has recorded 873 cases of coronavirus including 28 deaths.

Inter-State Lockdown

Mr Fayemi said the forum has unanimously agreed to the implementation of an inter-state lockdown in the country over the next two weeks.

He said this would help to mitigate the spread of the virus from state to state adding that only essential services will be permitted to be transported across state boundaries.

Many states had earlier announced the closure of their boundaries to check the spread of coronavirus. Despite such closure, however, many Nigerians still travel to and from such states, indicating weakness in implementation.

The new agreement by the governors indicate such interstate travel ban is now nationwide.

Meanwhile, Mr Fayemi said the forum resolved to work with the NCDC to ensure that health workers are provided with personal protective equipment (PPE) and are constantly trained on their use.

“Governors resolved to set up COVID-19 Committees at the regional level, headed by their State Commissioners of Health. Regional Committees will continue to interface with the State Task Force Committees on COVID-19 already established in each State,” he said.

Read the full statement by Mr Fayemi below.

ISSUED AT THE END OF THE 6th COVID-19 TELECONFERENCE MEETING OF THE NIGERIA GOVERNORS’ FORUM HELD ON WEDNESDAY, 22nd APRIL 2020

We, members of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), at our meeting held today deliberated on the COVID-19 pandemic in the country and resolved as follows:

The Forum held a minute’s silence in honour of all Nigerians who have lost their lives from coronavirus, especially health workers who were in the front lines of the epidemic.

Members also conveyed their condolence to Mr President and the people of Borno State on the passing of the Chief of Staff to the President, Mr. Abba Kyari who passed away on 17th April 2020 in the line of duty to the country.

The NGF Chairman briefed the Forum on the rapidly evolving situation of the COVID-19 pandemic and coordination efforts with the federal government, multilateral and bilateral partners, and the private sector through the Coalition against COVID-19 (CACOVID). With over 25 States now affected by the spread of the virus and increasing evidence of community transmission, State Governors called for the decentralization of the COVID-19 response as the best chance of nipping the spread of the virus in communities.

Following an update from the NGF Secretariat on the number of COVID-19 cases in the country, members expressed serious concern over the rising spread of the virus among health workers and resolved to work with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to ensure that health workers are adequately provided with personal protective equipment (PPE) and are constantly trained on the use of protective gears.

In order to strengthen coordinated implementation of necessary public health recommendations across States, Governors resolved to set up COVID-19 Committees at the regional level, headed by their State Commissioners of Health. Regional Committees will continue to interface with the State Task Force Committees on COVID-19 already established in each State.

The Forum also received briefing from the Governors of Lagos, Bauchi, Oyo and Ogun State who shared their experiences and lessons from the fight against COVID-19.

Governors unanimously agreed to the implementation of an inter-State lockdown in the country over the next two weeks to mitigate the spread of the virus from State to State. Only essential services will be permitted.

Lastly, the Forum congratulated the Governor of Kaduna State, H.E. Nasir El-Rufai who after nearly four weeks of testing positive and observing very strict medical regime has now received two consecutive negative test results for the coronavirus.