Govs seek help to access $3.25b World Bank funds

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By; Sunday Ode, Abuja.
As the economic situation in the country continuous to make it increasingly difficult for governments to meet up with the basic expectations of governance, especially salary payments, governors of the 36 states of the federation have resolved to turn to the World Bank for help.
At their meeting under the aegis of Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) Wednesday, which lasted till the early hours of Thursday at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja, they decided that they would activate machinery that would aid them to speedily access some $3.25bn portfolio currently lying idle in the bank.
 
NGF Chairman, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari; who briefed State House correspondents on the outcome of the meeting, said it was for the reason that the governors invited the Country Director of World Bank, Rachid Benmessaoud, to brief them on the money lying idle in the bank.
 
Yari who is Governor of Zamfara State, however, gave credit for the initiative to his Kaduna State counterpart, Malam Nasir El -Rufai who, according to him, caused a delegation of the bank to make a presentation to governors on how to access the money.
 
He said: “They came to educate the governors so that they will know that these monies are there especially in the kind of difficult situation we are, so that the states can move forward in terms of infrastructure development and other matters in our respective states.
 
“We had a presentation from the World Bank officials and we agreed on terms. The Governors contributed that so many things should be involved, most especially the issue of counterpart funding which the bank accepted they are going to look into.
“Also, they agreed that they will give us the details of state-by-state how much is lying down for each state and how we are going to access it. As of now, they are ready to facilitate a kind of workshop to the state governors and the Commissioners of Finance and other staff, so that we can know how best to move and access these funds for the betterment of our respective states.
 
“We discussed sincerely on the issue of counterpart funding. It is more difficult for us to fulfill our own part because we are struggling to see how we can pay salaries.
 
“That is the most difficult aspect of it and they promised that they will look into it and immediately that is done, the states will move fast to ensure we access it.”
Also speaking on the issue, El Rufai pointed out that ‎ the reason they must work hard to access the money was because all the state governments were broke.
The Kaduna governor expressed the belief that the idle money was capable of turning around the fortunes of the states if accessed.
His words: “The World Bank portfolio for the states for this year is $4.25bn and out of that, $3.25bn  is lying there undisbursed which means the states are not meeting their conditions or not moving fast enough to draw this $3.25bn.
“You know $3.25bn 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 bottleneck to ease the access of these monies because the World Bank wants us to withdraw these 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. So, we are going to work very hard to try to get these monies in trust.”

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