FG approves N656 billion lifeline to States

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved a fresh N656billion Bridge Financing Facility to the 36 States in the federation.

The approval, which would have each state receive N18.2b, is in a bid to help State governments meet financial obligations, especially with the previous budget support facility now due for repayment.

This was disclosed on Thursday at the 121st meeting (10th in 2021) of the National Economic Council, which was held virtually and was presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

State Governors, Federal Ministers, the Central Bank Governor, and other senior government officials attended the virtual meeting.

The Minister of Finance Budget and National Planning, Dr Zainab Ahmed, informed the Council that the Bridge Facility is now being processed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The bridge facility of N656.112billion would be disbursed in six tranches over a period of six months to the States.

Each of the 36 States will have a total loan amount of N18.225billion; with a 30-year tenor, and a 2-year moratorium at an interest rate of 9%.

The facility is to help the states to repay previous bailout facilities guaranteed for them by the Federal Government.

It would be recalled that on the 15th of July, 2021, the Council had received updates on the Budget Support Facility to States. At that meeting, the Finance Minister had informed the Council that the deductions from State Governments would commence soon as repayment for the previous bailout from the CBN. Subsequently, the States sought further support leading to the idea of bridge financing.

Also at Thursday’s meeting of the NEC, the Executive Director/CEO of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, informed the Council on the Status of the country’s COVID-19 Vaccine roll-out.

Dr. Shuaib noted that Nigeria has received over 100 million doses of COVID–19 vaccines (from COVAX, African Union, other countries) which he said was sufficient to ramp up vaccination for about 50 per cent of the targeted population.

The total eligible population of Nigerians for the vaccine is over 111 million, he added.

“Given the availability of vaccines, we have started rolling out a plan to vaccinate 50 percent of Nigerians, 18 years and above by January 31st, 2022,” the NPHCDA DG said, adding that there would be a scaling up of over 3,000 health facilities nationwide.

In his presentation to the Council on state performance report on COVID-19, the Director-General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa said Nigerians must continue to maintain and sustain the COVID-19 response, especially as it enters the holiday period where there will be anticipated travels within and outside the country, as well as mass events to herald the holiday season.

Adetifa said the country should “maintain visibility of the outbreak by testing, continuing to encourage adherence to public health and social measures, encourage vaccination and address vaccine hesitancy.”

The DG, NCDC added that the Delta variant of the COVID-19 is still the dominant strain of concern in the country.

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