The thirty-six State governors of Nigeria under the platform of Nigeria Governors Forum,NGF has agreed to improve on the existing relationships and partner with World Bank to build on the projects that have transitioned from one governor to the other.

The chairman of the Governors Forum, Dr Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State made this statement on Wednesday while briefing news men after a partnership meeting Governors with the world Bank executives in Abuja.

Governor Fayemi who said there was need to improve and accelerate on deployment of resources that is available within the portfolio for states noted the period of transition can be challenging and it was important that government is treated as continuum.

The NGF chairman re emphasized the importance of partnering with World bank adding the Bank is spending about $4 billion in states and some of the states are benefiting from a range of grants, loans that were given on the basis of the bank’s investments in our various states that are long term.

Governor Fayemi said “the periods of transition can be challenging period and it is absolutely important that we threat 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 a programme for result portfolio which are two vehicles that the world bank uses in their relationship and support in our states”.

“The NGF has proposed a range of suggestions which the bank has taken up and will be implementing in other to better the relationship we have built over the years. There is a question of course of also not having enough resources and the need to expand the lending portfolio from what it is now both to the federal government and the sub-national entity. It is absolutely important that that vehicle is not closed because if we can borrow from the world bank at one percent interest it is always going to be better for us than for us to borrowing at 25 percent commercial lending rate, that is a no brainer, we will all agree with that”.

“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 the 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 in other to improve quality of life and living conditions of our people, he added.

On his part, the World Bank country’s director, Rachid Benmessaoud described the Nigeria Governors Forum as the important platform for engaging with the sub- national governments aside it’s engagement at the state level noted that world bank mission was to fight poverty and build prosperity saying the number of poor people have increased in nigeria though the trend is decreasing.

Rachid Benmessaoud said ” fighting poverty in nigeria and Africa is going to be absolutely critical for reducing poverty globally. So therefore, our priorities which we have engaged with the governors will be around investing in human capital, investing in people to have access to basic education, health services, social protection”.

“But we do recognize the development 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 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 mobilization for providing primary spending on the social sector”.

“We 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. Are we able to bring life and succor to the lives of the much needed poor people in this region, are we are to provide healthcare and are we able to provide basic education especially for girls to go to school and to stay in school, are we are able to ensure pregnant woman is able to deliver safely in the hospital. These are the kind of development challenges we have before us. the World Bank Country Director added.

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