The National Economic Council (NEC) on Thursday approved some coordinated efforts to curb incessant flooding in the country and reviewed a presentation on prison decongestion among other issues.
Flooding in the past few weeks had claimed lives in states such as Katsina, where no fewer than 40 people died on Monday with houses among other property destroyed.
Anambra Gov. Willy Obiano, while briefing State House correspondents, said that NEC approved the recommendations on flood prevention, mitigation and preparedness presented to it by the Minister of Environment, Alhaji Ibrahim Jibril.
Obiano said NEC underscored the need to set up a Federal Project Coordinating Unit to comprise officers from the collaborating entities (Federal, States and PCFRR), to be headed by a Director.
According to him, the unit is to identify locations for critical actions and realistic cost estimates and implement the flood prevention, mitigation and preparedness programme.
He said council also approved a project cost sharing formular of 30 per cent each by the federal and state governments while the Presidential Committee on Flood Relief and Rehabilitation (PCFRR) would pay 40 per cent on identified projects.
The governor added that the council approved the recommendation to set up short-term and sustainable way of de-silting major tributaries and canals ahead of the flooding season.
Also, Bauchi Gov. Mohammed Abubakar said that NEC reviewed the presentation made by the Minister of Justice, Malam Abubakar Malami on prison decongestion and cases of 2,359 condemned convicts nationwide.
He said the presentation was to apprise Council of the ongoing activities under the Prison Decongestion Initiative and to invite its attention to the need to tackle the challenges associated with the cases of condemned convicts in prisons.
“Available statistics put the number of condemned convicts nationwide at 2,359 as at Wednesday, July 18, 2018,’’ the governor said, adding that council’s attention was drawn to the deplorable state of prisons as potential security threat.
He noted that the large number of inmates had overstretched the existing facilities, rendering them grossly inadequate, inhumane and uninhabitable.
He attributed the rising incidents of jail breaks as aggravating the attendant risks to localities within the vicinity of the prison.
He stated that Council was informed that the Minister of Interior had presented an Executive Memorandum to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on the need for immediate action to prevent failure and breakdown of the prison system.
According to him, FEC had on May 24, 2017, directed the Federal Ministry of Justice to put in place measures to fast track the decongestion of prisons following which a National Stakeholders Committee on Prisons Reforms and Decongestion was inaugurated.
According to him, so far, the initiative of the Stakeholders Committee and visitation to some prisons led to release of 1,310 inmates.
He said that Council was invited to note the cases of condemned convicts and the role of state governors as being statutorily empowered to sign death warrants or commute the death sentence to life imprisonment.
The governors could also exercise powers to grant prerogative of mercy in deserving cases.
Accordingly, he said that NEC recommended that state governors might wish to carry out a review of the cases of condemned convicts within their jurisdictions as enshrined in Section 212 of the 1999 Constitution.
It also recommended that the Nigerian Prisons Service should review its policy on inter-State transfer of prisoners to reduce incidences of prisoners being held outside the state of conviction.
He added that cases of convicts imprisoned outside the state of conviction might be forwarded to the governor of the state where they were sentenced for consideration.
The Special Adviser to the President on Economic Matters, Dr Adeyemi Dipeolu, also briefed on the progress made in the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Clinics inaugurated by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.
Dipeolu and said the activities had so far spread to 17 states with 303,000 participants.
According to him, MSMEs account for nearly 50 per cent of Nigeria’s GDP and provide an estimated 70 per cent of total employment while among its challenges are access to finance, poor infrastructure, and multiple taxation.
He listed other identified challenges as including limited business development support, inconsistent policies and access to market.
According to the presidential Aide, among the achievements of the MSME Clinics are creation of One-Stop Shops in Cross River, Abia, Kwara, Osun and Plateau states.
He stated that NEC approved the extension of the clinics to all states and continuity of programme objectives in states already visited.
Meanwhile, Oyo Deputy Gov. Moses Adeyemo said that Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun reported to NEC that the balance in the Excess Crude Account as at July 16 was $1.92 billion.
He added that the Stabilization Fund Account had N18.89 billion and the Natural Resources Development Fund N133.72 billion as at July 16.(NAN)