PORT HARCOURT- GOVERNORS under the aegis, Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF rose from a one day retreat with a vow to establish an independent body that would among others recommend retirement benefits for governors in the country.
This is coming some days after the on – going National Conference canceled the payment of pension, severance, life insurance for Governors and their deputies.
In a communique read at the end of the retreat by the Chairman of NGF and Governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, the forum noted that it would use its position at the National Economic Council (NEC) to push for low interest rates, enforcement of import policies and collection of duties.
The theme of the retreat was Health, Youth Unemployment and Transitioning out- life after office: Perspectives and Challenges.
It will be recalled that Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio made a u- turn on a N200 million pension for governors from the state following public outcry over the recent passage of the amended Akwa Ibom State Governors and Deputy Governors Pension Law 2014 by the State House of Assembly.
The governor however asked the House to expunge parts of the amendment that placed a N100 million and N50 million ceiling on the amounts that could be spent yearly on medical care of each of the state’s former governors and deputy governors, respectively.
According to Amaechi, the forum will “examine the establishment of an independent office to make objective recommendations on the retirement benefits of governors.
“We re-iterate our perception of our positions as time limited public service and our determination to leave behind legacy projects which we and our states can be justifiably proud.
“Even more strongly on good governance and service delivery during the remaining period of their terms of office since what happens in the last year of office may make or mar our records of performance.”
Decrying the state of youth unemployment in the country, the governors resolved to use their “position in the National Economic Council (NEC) to press for low interest rates and enforcement of import policies and collection of customs duties.”
According to the governors, they would work towards the adoption of investment for poverty-reducing employment strategies especially by emphasising policies that would generate employment at the local level, just as they pledged to support all efforts to provide enabling environments in which jobs can be created with particular emphasis on infrastructure, including interrupted power supply and low interest rates.
The governors further resolved to support all the infrastructure necessary for speedy Internet connections, including broadband, so that “our youths in particular and other Nigerians can participate massively in the wealth to be made from knowlegde-based economy.
On health care, the governors vowed to emphasise more on making primary health care centres more accessible to patients by putting in place a system which makes them utilise the health facilities closest to them.
While they resolved to prioritise the provision of universal primary healthcare to all citizens and ensure its sustainability and affordability, they promised to “emphasis preventive healthcare, as against current focus on curative healthcare.”
On the youth unemployment, the panel was chaired by Secretary General, Organisation of African Trade Union, Comrade Hassan Sunmonu. Others on the panel include Prof, Olu Ajakaiye; Mr Fola Adeola; Adams Oshiomole; Aliyu Wamakko.
On the health segment former Chairman of the NGF, Sen. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, panelists include, Governor Babatunde Fashola; Prof Oyewole Owolabi, Prof. Oyewole Tomori, HonM Chibuike Amaechi, and Ibikunle Amosu.
Governors present were the Rivers state governor, Rotimi Amaechi; Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha; Kano State governor, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso; Ekiti state governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi; Sokoto State governor, Aliyu Wamako; Adamawa State governor, Murtala Nyako; Ogun State governor, Abikunle Amosun; Lagos State governor, Babatunde Fashola; Edo state governor, Adams Oshiomole; Oyo State governor, Abiola Ajimobi; Nasarawa State governor, Almakura; Governor of Kwara State, Abdulfatah Ahmed; Deputy Governor of Borno State.
Others were , former President of Liberia, Prof Amos Sawyer; Senator Bukola Saraki; Senator Magnus Abe; former minister of federal capital territory Malam Nasiru El rufai; Prof Wole Owolabi; Prof Ayo Gboyega; Prof Oyewole Tomori.