From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
State governor under the aegis of Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), are elated they can access $4.25 billion World Bank grants to aid infrastructural development in health, education, rural access, agriculture, revival of livestock, water supply among others.
Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai who gave a synopsis of the funds and its implication at the NGF meeting in Abuja which ended in the earlier hours of Thursday, said states are expected to provide counterpart funds before the World Bank could release the money.
Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Abdul Aziz Yari, told State House correspondents that out of the $4.25 billion, available $1 billion has already been accessed by a state he did not want to name, leaving a balance of $3.25 billion for year 2016.
The World Bank Country Director, Rachid Benmessaoud, on the invitation of the NGF had made a formal presentation on how to access the funds.
According to El-Rufai,”The World Bank portfolio for the states this year is $4.25 billion, of which $3.25 billion dollars is lying undisbursed and that states are not meeting their conditions or not moving fast enough to drawdown this $3.25billion.
“You know $3.25 billion can do a lot to improve the lives and livelihood of our citizens in the state and the World Bank has expressed its flexibility to look into the challenges we are facing as well as the procedure or bottlenecks to ease the access of these monies.
“The World Bank wants us to withdraw this money as quickly as possible so that our citizens will get the benefits from health to education and the rural access, agriculture and the revival of livestock and water supply.
“These are the areas that most of these funds are dedicated and we all need the money because we are all broke, and so we must work very hard to try to get these monies in trust”.
Explaining further, Yari said states were less interested in accessing the grants because of the bottlenecks associated with getting it.
He said the commitment to develop their states and meet recurrent expenditures, in the face of shrinking resources, necessitated their renewed vigor to access the grants.
According to him, “We the Nigerian Governors Forum had a meeting where we invited the Country Director of World Bank, Rachid Benmessaoud to brief the forum on the money lying down in the World Bank, which largely belongs to State Governments, but has not been accessed due to its cumbersome procedures.
“It was the initiative of the Governor of Kaduna state that the bank should come and make this presentation, so that they can educate us to know that these monies are there for us to access, especially in this kind of precarious situation we are in.
He said the presentation from the World Bank gave the governors opportunity to agree on terms, having made their own contributions, especially on the issue of counterpart funding which the World Bank accepted they are going to look into.