The Federal Government of Nigeria and the 36 state governors have agreed on a plan to partner with the private sector to decongest prisons across the country.
This was disclosed on Thursday by the governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, while briefing State House correspondents at the end of the 78th meeting of the National Economic Council, NEC, which held inside the Council Chamber, State House, Abuja.
Mr. Umahi said the Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau, presented the state of prisons in Nigeria and painted a very appalling picture of structures and logistics in the prison system.
The governor said NEC agreed that states that have capacity to build prisons should go ahead including private sector participation.
He said Mr. Dambazau informed NEC that over 70 per cent of inmates in the country’s prisons are awaiting trial adding, “When we talk about private sector participation in terms of building prisons and may be converting some of the inmates for labour use, then such 70 per cent will not be available because they have not been tried”.
He also said some of the governors had already developed some initiatives.
“Some have succeeded in moving their prisons from the urban centres to outside the city centres; some are providing medical services; some are building new prisons and so NEC considered all the submissions and came up with an agreement that the governors should assist the Federal Government in partnership to rehabilitate the prisons,” he said.
Mr. Umahi said the governors were also advised to take a number of measures aimed at decongesting prisons in the country.
“For example the Chief Judges of the various states should do more frequent visits to the prisons. There are constitutional roles to perform during such visits. The governors should on their own, from time to time also visit,” he said.
On condemned criminals, Mr. Umahi said the governors and NEC agreed that “the governors should either sign their death sentences or commute them as they wish because they also serve as a risk if a judgment is delivered but the governors are not taking action on”.
The Ebonyi governor also said the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, briefed the NEC on the implementation of the SDGs in Nigeria.
The presentation by Mr. Adefulire centred around the mainstreaming and Integration of SDGs into States Development Plans as well as evidence based planning through Needs Assessment and coasting.
She also spoke about “delivering impact through the conditional grants scheme and sensitization and Advocacy at the sub-national level”.
Mr. Umahi said the council agreed to improve security and facilities in schools especially the primary schools through proper funding.
On his part, the Director General of the National Agency for the Control of Aids, NACA, Sani Aliyu, stated that are about 3 million people living with HIV in the country.
He also said some States have made budgetary allocation for HIV programmes but no cash was released.
He advocated, “at least 0.5% to 1% of monthly Federation Allocation to States be set aside for financing the implementation of the HIV/AIDS programme”.
Excess Crude Account
The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, presented to the Council a balance of $2.3 billion in the Excess Crude Account.
The governor of Gombe State, Ibrahim Dankwambo, who also briefed reporters, said the budget support loan initiated by President Muhammadu Buhari ended in May.
He however said Acting President Yemi Osinbajo had directed the facility continues.
The Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, also briefed NEC and gave an update on the Stabilisation Fund, Natural Resources Development Fund and Ecological Fund.
Mr. Dankwambo said the Stabilisation Balance as at 28/6/17 stood at N28.5 billion, the Natural Resources Development Fund, N87.6 billion and the Ecological Fund, N28.9 billion.
Mr. Dankwambo, who also chaired the NEC ad hoc committee on excess crude account, revealed the progress of work of his committee.
He said about 18 Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, of government are now being audited, adding that, while 10 have been completed, work was yet to start on three.