By Shuaibu Zubair Tatu ,Birinin Kebbi
Kebbi State Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu has said an advisory committee would be constituted to offer suggestions on how Kebbi State could manage the affairs of the state and meets its financial obligations in view of the economic impact the pandemic of Covid 19 is likely to have on the state.
Bagudu disclosed this yesterday at presidential hall meeting in Birinin Kebbi , ” the advisory committee will be constituted today and will consist of all stakeholders including the labour union and other groups that may volunteer to guide the state on useful suggestions on the way forward ”, he said.
He said there was urgent need for stakeholders to advance options on the payment of salary in subsequent months if federation allocation continue to fall .
Governor during an emergency meeting with members of the State Executive Council, Special Advisers, Permanent Secretaries , Head of Agencies and ministries , Members of the Kebbi State Assembly, Emirs, Local Government Chairmen, NLC and the Media among other critical stakeholders charged key stakeholders in the state to urgently suggest plausible ways to diversify the economy in such away that it can survive any unexpected turbulence in the global oil market .
According to him the economic downturn was coming on the heels of the ravaging effects Covid 19 pandemic currently having on the world’s economy.
He expressed worry that the pandemic had already taken it’s negative toll on the world”s economy, especially on the oil rich countries thereby affecting Nigeria”s crude sales which would have negative impact on the state economy.
Bagudu said the federal government has equally taking proactive measures over the issue of the pandemic and its effects on the economy.
He said:” This meeting was convened to, among other issues, effect of the Corona Virus Pandemic on the world’s economy,especially how the prices of oil have crashed.
” it is also saddening that, the prices have not only crashed but our oil is not being sold .This will certainly affect the revenues accruing to the federation account and by extension, the three tiers of government”.
He charged stakeholders to proffer plausible suggestions as to how to fast track the diversification, so as to make the state economy less dependent on oil.
The Governor expressed delight with the measures so far taken by the State Ministry of Health on how to effectively curb the menace of the pandemic.
” I have been fully briefed about the measures so far taken by the Ministry of Health and I am highly convinced.
” I must therefore commend all the health workers and all stakeholders in the state because they have done an incredible job , which would be sustained.
” A lot of people, especially the royal fathers have also helped Her Excellency, Dr Zainab Bagudu, in her sustained efforts to fully sensitize the people of the state on the Pandemic.
” We have therefore brainstormed as to what the health workers have been doing and what more they want the stakeholders to do”, the governor said.
Bagudu expressed happiness that people of the state have so far heeded to all the directives and health advice given to them by the health workers, saying,” they have heeded to the calls to reduce large gathering to the barest minimum .”
While lauding the stakeholders for attending the meeting , Bagudu admonished them to sustain the ongoing sensitization efforts across the state.
He said government would pay March Salary and Pension while also averred that his administration would fulfill it’s promise on payment of leave grant and gratuity to civil servants.
Earlier, the Permanent Secretary, Budget and Economic Planning, Hajiya Aisha Muhammad Usman reviewed the finances of the state saying that money accruing to Kebbi State Government had been on the shortfall.
She revealed that the state was yet to receive its federation allocation for March as no disbursement has been made nationwide.
She said the emergence of Covid 19 in November, 2019 and it’s subsequent metamorphosis into a Global Pandemic had impacted adversely on the global economy , health crises adversely affecting both supply and demand transforming into an economic crises of global proportions.
According to her, the impact of Covid 19 has caused international trade to be distracted , demands for good and services deteriorated, revenue loss due to oil price fall, 60 Nigerian cargoes overhang and N20 liter pump price reduction announced among others.
She lamented that declining revenues has impact on Kebbi State 2020 Budget which was prepared on certain critical assumptions based on the crude oil price of $57 per barrel and statutory allocation was to contribute about N 49.6 billion on the bench mark oil price of $57 per barrel of oil, which allows states and LGAs to share the proceeds after deduction from the cost of production. She also said VAT would be affected as well.
On his part, the Acting State Auditor General , Alhaji Faruk Makera gave a comprehensive analysis of Kebbi revenue .
The Commissioner of Health, Hon. Jafar Muhammad announced that there was no suspected case of Corona Virus infection in the state saying that a multi sectoral committee was set up as part of the proactive approach to safe guard and prevent the spread of the disease to Kebbi State.
The Emir of Gwandu , Alhaji Muhammad Iliyasu Bashar advocated for the reintroduction of Personal Tax ( Haraji) and Cattle Tax (Jangali) in the state to facilitate societal development while the Emir of Argungu, Alhaji Samaila Muhammad Mera said people have to make sacrifices to give room for tackling emergency cases.
He said government must look inwards even if it means suspending salary of workers to attend to pressing emergency matters to safe the people.
The Speaker, Kebbi State House of Assembly, Alhaji Samaila Abdulmumin Kamba averred that the legislature would remain proactive in upholding the interest and wellbeing of the people of the state.
He said the legislature would be ready for any bill from the executive for adjustment of the state budget.
Cross section of the participants offered suggestions on how best the state government can reduce its running cost, cut the salary of political office holders and civil servants, diversify the state economy to reduce over dependence on federal allocation and improve tax collection among others.