The federal and state governments have agreed to partner the private sector in the construction and rehabilitation of prisons across the country, Ebonyi governor Dave Umahi, has said.
Umahi made the statement on Thursday in Abuja while briefing State House correspondents on the outcome of the meeting of the National Economic Council (NEC).
Gov. Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe state and Dr Sani Aliyu, Director-General, National Agency for the Control of Aids, accompanied Umahi in the briefing.
The meeting was presided over by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo.
Umahi said the agreement was arrived at after the Minister of Interior, General Abdulrahman Danbazau (rtd) and the Controller-General of Prison, briefed the council on the state of the nation’s prisons.
He said that in their separate briefing, the two men presented the state of prisons in Nigeria and painted “an appalling’’ picture of structures and logistics in the prison system.
“The Minister of Interior and the Controller-General of Prison came to brief us about the status of our prisons and inmates throughout the country.
“The situation painted by the minister and the CG of Prison was quite pathetic.
“It was also agreed that states that have the capacity to build prisons should go ahead including private sector participation.
“The Minister made it very clear that over 70 per cent of inmates are awaiting trial, ‘’ he said.
Umahi said that governors who attended the meeting were unanimous on the need to rehabilitate prisons in the country.
He said: “It was indicated that states that have the capacity should as soon as practicable lend helping hand to provide facilities that will help decongest the prisons and improve the state of the inmates.’’
The Ebonyi governor told newsmen that the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) briefed the NEC on the implementation of the SDGs in the country.
In his contribution, Gov. Dankwambo said that Finance Minister, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, announced a balance of $2.3 billion dollars in the Excess Crude Account.
He said that the Accountant-General of the Federation gave update on the Stabilisation Fund, Natural Resources Development Fund and Ecological Fund:
Dankwambo quoted the AGF as saying that the balance in the stabilisation fund as at June 28 was N28.5 billion; Natural Resources Development Fund was N87.6 billion while Ecological Fund was N28.9 billion.
On the Budget Support Loan Facility, Dankwambo said the Acting President had directed that “the facility continues until claims of other states are paid. ”
The Budget Support Loan Facility is an initiative of the Buhari administration to help states boost their finances in the light of dwindling funds from the Federation Account.
Dankwambo said he briefed the meeting on the progress made by the Ad Hoc Committee on Excess Crude Account constituted by the NEC.
He said that 10 out of 18 Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) had been audited; adding that a comprehensive report should be expected by next meeting of NEC.
In his remark, NACA Director-General stressed the need to set aside between 0.5 per cent to 1 per cent of monthly federal allocation to states for financing HIV/AIDS programme.