Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State has revealed that the World Bank has earmarked $4 Billion for poverty eradication, erosion control, human capital development and health-related issues in Nigeria.

The NGF Chairman, during a press conference with journalists after the governors meeting with World Bank Officials in Abuja said some of these monies would be in the form of grants and loans for the 36 states in Nigeria.

He 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, which we can benefit from on the basis of the bank’s investments in our states.

“So, it is important for us to work on that engagement both in terms of the lending operations, in terms of advisory activities, in terms of the concrete action in our states. I don’t know of many development agencies that have programmes in 36 states; the World Bank does and all of our governors were present in this meeting. We had an 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.

“This is important because transition can be a 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, a programme for result portfolio, which are two vehicles that the World Bank uses in their relationship and support in our states.”

Speaking further, he said “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 be 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, including FISTA, which is about fiscal transparency in our states. You will see that the World Bank is a critical partner that we really need to work with in order to improve quality of life and living conditions of our people.”

Speaking on behalf of the World Bank, Rachid Benmessaoud, the World Bank Country Director said, “As you know, the World Bank mission is to fight poverty and build prosperity. We know that the number of poor people has 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. 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.”