$4b World Bank grant for States to Boost Education, Health, Agric

Karin Kemper, Senior Director for Environment and Natural Resources, World Bank

The World Bank is investing $4 billion in critical sectors of the economy.
But governors under the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) want the funding to be expanded beyond the current threshold.

The fund is to assist the states in addressing health, education, soil erosion, water and infrastructural development.

Besides, the grant has a lot of performance-based investments as each benefiting state will be rewarded on the basis of performance on certain indicator.
The news was broken yesterday after the NGF meeting with two of its partners – the World Bank and Bill and the Melinda Gate Foundation (BMGF).

According to Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi, who doubles as the NGF Chairman, some of the states will be benefiting from a range of grants, which are better than borrowing at 25 per cent.

Fayemi posited that the loans will be on a long-term moratorimum and with low interests.

Governor Fayemi said, proposed some suggestions which the World Bank has taken up and will be implementing to better the relationship that has been built over the years.

Briefing reporters at the end of the meeting in Abuja, Fayemi said it was important that the governors work with the World Bank team to address some of their states’ challenges.

Elated with the coming investment, the NGF chair said: ”The bank is spending somewhere in the region of $4 billion in states and some of our states are benefiting from a range of grants; even the loans that we benefit from on the basis of the bank’s investments in our states, these are with long term moratorium and with low interest over a long period of time to offset those loan portfolios.

“So, it is important for us to work on that engagement both in terms of the lending operations, in terms of adversary activities, in terms of the concrete action in our states.

“I don’t know of many developments partners that have programmes in 36 states, the World Bank does and all of our governors were present at this meeting and that makes the statement about the importance attached to this partnership with the World Bank and we had extensive discussion on how to improve on existing relationship and how to build on those projects that have transitioned from one governor to the other.

“Because, periods of transition can be challenging period and it is absolutely important that we treat government as a continuum and address whatever gaps that there are without throwing the baby away with the bath water. These are what came out from the investment/lending portfolio.”

According to Fayemi, the Forum proposed a range of suggestions, which the bank has taken up and will be implementing to better the relationship built over the years.”

He added: “For us, it is about development and if you look at some of the programmes,  whether you are talking about BESDA – The Better Education Service Delivery for All – in our states, which focuses a lot on northern states, where we have a high percentage of out-of-school children, or you look at a Saving One Million Lives that deals with malaria and all other diseases that have been responsible for the high rate of child mortality.

Under five mortality in many of our states, and these are grants, these are not loans, or even which is about FISTA which is about fiscal transparency in our states, you will see that World Bank is a critical partner that we really need to work with to improve quality of life and living conditions of our people.

“For us at the level of the NGF, we are passionate about accountability with those who want to work with us as development partners, we are extremely focused on performance and result now and that has more to do with our people.

“The extent to which we will make a difference in the life of our citizens that will recommend us to those same citizens either for mandate renewal or for commendation in one form or another.

“That is why we are returning to first principles, our state peer review mechanisms and this is one of the ways we are going to strengthen peer learning. Today, we could see from the states that are doing well, what they are doing in order to achieve the kind of results they are achieving in partnership with the World Bank.

“And we could also see from the states that are struggling, what they really need to do to improve on their partnership in a manner that will benefit citizens. And that, ultimately, is what this is about; it is not so much about the dollars, it is about what we do with the dollars for our people.”

World Bank Country Director Rachid Benmessaoud, said: “We, at the bank, have been particularly engaging with the NGF as the important platform for engaging with the sub-national governments, besides our engagements at the state level.

“As you know, the World Bank mission is to fight poverty and build prosperity. We know that the number of poor people have increased in Nigeria in terms of number, though the trend is decreasing.

“So, fighting poverty in Nigeria and Africa is going to be absolutely critical for reducing poverty globally. Therefore, our priorities which we have engaged with the governors will be investing in human capital and in people to have access to basic education, health services, social protection.

“But we do recognise that developmental challenges also requires investing in infrastructure and filling the large infrastructure gaps. But with that we want to make sure that those infrastructure gaps are filled by bringing more of the private sector so that will enable to create the physical space for governors to invest in human capital, including financing from development partners like the World Bank, but most importantly, to increase the domestic revenue mobilisation for providing primary spending on the social sector.

“So, the World Bank has the large part of its engagement at the state level. What we have done today in this workshop hosted by the NGF is to go over the portfolio at the state level and to how it can accelerate the implementation of the programmes.

“The portfolio ranges from health, education, soil erosion, water and it has a lot of investments that are also performance based, where the state is rewarded on the basis of performance on certain indicator.

“Like the chairman has said, better education, reducing the number of out-of-school children, the states’ fiscal performance, providing basic primary healthcare, a range of activities already implemented.

“We wanted to make sure that the new governors as well as the returning governors are well aware of the programmes being implemented in their respective states and what it will take for them to accelerate pace of implementation.

“We discussed around coordination mechanism, the alignment between projects funded by the World Bank and the state development plans. We discussed ways of ensuring that the funding provided by the World Bank are used for the intended purposes, how the governors can engage with the bank, accessed funds in the bank which they can benefit from.

“We discussed the way forward and what I really appreciate, which I have expressed to the chairman, is that all the governors and deputy governors present today (yesterday) gave their commitment to really pay attention to the World Bank portfolio in their respective states and to ensure that this kind of conversation is done on a regular basis, not only at our level but at their level with their project coordinators, state coordinators to ensure that any issue that affects implementation is being addressed.

“We are excited with this new partnership in the sense that this new tram of both the returning and new governors, we have the way forward so that at the end of the day it is not about how much money is being dispersed but how much lives we are willing to collectively transform.”

 

 

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