The World Bank Group has pledged to renew its commitment to fast-track action in assisting the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) and the governments of the other 36 states of Nigeria to respond to and recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Arising from an exclusive stakeholder’s technical roundtable recently in Abuja, to mark the first “Nigeria COVID-19 Action Recovery Economic Stimulus (NG-CARES) World Bank Hybrid Implementation Support Mission”, World Bank consultant (social protection) and coordinator of the programme, Prof. O. A. Oni, announced that the FCTA will receive the sum of N1.1billion out of $117million budgeted for the COVID-19 project by the World Bank Group and its development partners.
Oni further disclosed that a total of N35.3billion had already been disbursed through what he called “results-based disbursement-linked indicators (DLI) advances” to all the 36 states of the Federation and the FCT, representing an average of N500m to N1.3billion per state, in February 2022.
He explained that the objective of the mission was to address critical issues on the implementation of NG-CARES programmes and initiatives through regional roundtable discussions and technical sessions. He equally noted that the mission also provides the World Bank with the opportunity to confirm and ratify the eligibility of the FCT to participate in the NG-CARES programme, having met the necessary conditions following the review and assessment of the administration’s fiduciary and technical submissions with respect to membership.
Affirming the World Bank’s NG-CARES membership validation letter, dated February 28, 2022, addressed to the Minister of the FCT, Mallam Muhammed Bello and signed by the bank’s acting country director, Nigeria, Western and Central African region, Mr. Marco Hernandez, Oni said: “We are pleased to notify you that the World Bank confirms that, based on the review and assessment of the submitted fiduciary and technical requirements and documents by your team, the Federal Capital Territory is eligible to participate in the NG-CARES programme”.
While addressing stakeholders and management of the FCTA during a working visit to the Minister of State, FCT, Hajiya Dr. Ramatu Tijani Aliyu, the World Bank programme coordinator emphasised that the project was particularly aimed to help the FCT recover from the effects of Covid-19. He said the DLI-project would be implemented in three results-based areas – increased social transfers, provision of social services and livelihood support to the poor and vulnerable households, increased food security and safe food supply chains and facilitating the recovery and enhancing the capacity of micro and small-scale enterprises across the 36 states and the FCT.
According to the objectives of the programme, Oni pledged to provide capacity-building for NG-CARES implementation officers and other key members of the FCT staff, while the FCT administration provides productivity allowance for the training participants. He commended the FCT minister and his management team for their invaluable efforts in meeting the eligibility criteria and the general objectives of the NG-CARES programme. He, however, appealed to the permanent secretary to facilitate the procurement process in the FCTA to fast-track all procurement and disbursement issues capable of slowing down the implementation of the projects in the FCT.
The permanent secretary, Federal Capital Territory Administration, Mr. Adesola Olusade, applauded the efforts of the World Bank in its development programmes in the FCT and Nigeria, especially the provision of socio-economic stimulus packages and other social support systems for Covid-19 victims and vulnerable households.
He promised to engage the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) to approve waivers to fast-track procurement processes for NG-CARES projects’ implementation. While pledging the administration’s support in executing NG-CARES projects and programmes, the Permanent Secretary assured the bank that the FCT administration will utilise every available resource responsibly.
Speaking earlier, in his welcome address, at the opening session of the World Bank Support Mission, the chairman of FCT NG-CARES Implementation Committee and mandate secretary, FCTA Economic Planning, Revenue Generation and Public-Private Partnership (EPRGPPP) secretariat, Hon. Agboola Lukman Dabiri, said the FCT was carefully selected by the five-day zonal mission, from 10 states of the federation, including the FCT. He expressed satisfaction that the programme in the nation’s capital has been applauded for recording high scores among the 36 participating states in the bank’s eligibility assessment, despite its administration’s late membership.
He expressed the hope that the FCT and other participating states would leverage on the mission to improve on the NG-CARES systems and processes for its full implementation as well as address some challenges associated with the Word Bank Assessment Report. The mandate secretary assured the World Bank of the FCT administration’s commitment to the successful implementation of the NG-CARES programme.
The Nigeria COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (NG-CARES) is an emergency support programme to assist the 36 states of the Federation and the FCT recover from the underlying impacts of the COVID-induced socio-economic crises.
A statement by secretariat’s head, public relations, Dr. Nnachi Okafor, recalled that, in response to the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic which severely ravaged millions of Nigerians and other Third World countries, the Federal Government, on June 3, 2021, signed a joint financial agreement for the deployment of over $157bn to fight the economic and health impacts of the pandemic for over 15 months.
The World Bank’s financial commitment in 2021 alone amounted to $110bn. Since the outbreak of the pandemic in 2019, the World Bank has supported nations, especially in the Third World, to address critical health and emergency challenges, as well as protect the poor and vulnerable groups, strengthen health systems, support businesses, create jobs and tune world economies for inclusive recovery and sustainability.