The United Nations humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, has assured Governor Inuwa Yahaya of UN’s support in its quest to strengthen its social safety nets.
He gave the assurance when the Gombe State governor paid him a courtesy visit at the UN House in Abuja.
He noted that the imposed restrictions, temporary closure of schools, markets and other establishments have impacted on the markets and left those in the informal sector as well as many households in immediate economic setbacks.
He said there was a need to come up with strategies to utilise the social protection system that will be adaptive and resilient to shocks to help the people.
“These are difficult times for the leaders. And until we find a convergence between fiscal and monetary policy, we are in a fix,” Mr Kallon said.
“On our part, however, we are trying to do our best to help. We have established a COVID-19 Basket Fund to complement ongoing efforts to mobilise resources in support of government’s Multi-Sectoral Pandemic Response Plan.”
He also said the agency had so far mobilised about $61 million and “has so far been open about it.”
“The budget proposals were thoroughly debated by a technical committee. We are now putting a procurement of essential medicines and drugs to the tune of about $33 million which will be distributed to cover not only the federal authority but also states, including Gombe.”
The official said the distribution list will be made available to the governors “so that they will hold those responsible for the distribution accountable.”
He said Gombe is one of UN’s priority states, as such will benefit from the intervention and many other programmes being reeled out by the global body.
Earlier, Governor Yahaya sought the UN’s support in his administration’s efforts to mitigate the socio-economic impact of the global pandemic.
He said although the pandemic exposed the weakness of the country’s health system, “in Gombe State it served as a challenge to rejig the public health sector for effective service delivery”.
The governor said being an area of priority, the health sector has received remarkable attention in the state with about 80 per cent of the primary healthcare centres revitalised while Gombe Specialist Hospital has been upgraded.
Governor Yahaya said even before recording any case of coronavirus, the state took proactive measures by constituting a task force “made up of highly experienced public health experts, and establishing isolation and fully equipped treatment centres.”
He said the state has also procured a PCR machine for its soon to be inaugurated testing centre among other strategies to curtail the spread of disease.
He said his administration is seeking closer collaboration and support from the UN and other development partners and agencies in its social protection agenda and other post-COVID-19 policy plans to stabilise the economy and protect residents