Gov. Buni Meets World Bank, US Embassy Officials Over Development Effort …as World Bank Praises Yobe for Excelling in Key Projects

H.E Gov. Buni today met with the World Bank Country Director Mr Rachid Benmessaoud and other bank officials in Abuja to discuss the range of projects that the Bank is supporting in Yobe State and to ask for more support and partnership in pushing forward his administration’s agenda for education, healthcare, agriculture and youth empowerment.

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The governor also met with the Mission Director of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Mr. Stephen M Haykin and the Charge d’Affaires of the US embassy in Abuja Kathleen FitzGibbon to press for similar partnership.

Governor Buni told the World Bank officials that projects being supported by the Bank in Yobe are being implemented successfully but noted that funding needs to be reviewed and the projects scaled up to achieve their intended benefits.

“As a result of our partnership with you, we currently maintain eight World Bank portfolios tailored at enhancing our key policies and programmes. These portfolios have a total operational commitment of over 100 million dollars.

“I am glad to report that the portfolios are being implemented successfully. I am also happy to note that they are contributing significantly to our recovery from our security challenges and improving the living conditions of our people”.

The governor noted, however, that just a little over 50 percent of funding threshold was reached so far and therefore asked for a review. “I would like to observe that the eight portfolios have so far collectively disbursed just over 50 per cent of the total commitments. Some of them, like the Nigeria State Health Investment Project (S-SHIP) which our state enjoyed for only two years, are ending soon. We therefore appeal to the World Bank Country Director to consider extending the operational timespan of those portfolios that could not meet their target due to late commencement of activities”, he said.

The governor added: “we also want to be included in the Multi-Phased Approach (MPA) scheme, so that we could use the facility to make more progress in our education and healthcare sectors. To fully achieve the objectives of the Saving One Million Lives initiative, we would also appeal for an upward review of the funds’ allocation threshold. Currently, the allocation flow does not allow us to make as much progress as we would like to”.

H.E Gov. Buni stressed that his major areas of attention are education, agriculture, healthcare, and youth empowerment and asked for the World Bank to partner with him to make progress in those areas in Yobe State.

The World Bank’s Country Director Mr. Rachid Benmessaoud praised Yobe for excelling in implementing projects funded by the Bank.

“We are really proud to partner with the state because the state had done exceptionally well in the implementation of the world bank assisted programmes under the able leadership of His Excellency the governor. We were able to see how these programmes can be accelerated to achieve good results for the citizens of Yobe.

“So, we have had a very good conversation and we have agreed that we will be regularly conducting these deep dive discussions on programmes’ performance over the next year so that we make sure that really the programmes can deliver to the citizens of Yobe and that Yobe state government can be seen as responsive to its people. These are programmes cover health, education, community development support, youth empowerment and fiscal reform programmes. And these are really programmes that are aligned with the state’s development plan which actually reflect the priority of His Excellency the Yobe state governor”, Mr Benmessaoud said.

World Bank officials who met with Governor Buni along with the Country Director praised the State for excelling in the management of the Bank’s supported projects, especially the State and Local Governance Reform Programme (SLOGOR), Community Social Development Programme (CSDP) and the Saving One Million Lives (SOML) programme, amongst others.

In his meeting with the officials of the United States Government, H.E Gov. Buni also stressed the need for support to revamp education, healthcare and agriculture and for USAID to key into his programme for education reform under the state of emergency in education that he declared.

“As Your Excellency is aware, the security situation in our state has improved significantly. We would therefore like for the US and its agencies to scale up your interventions to help us achieve our post-insurgency development goals.

“Our major focus now, in addition to rebuilding communities affected by the Boko Haram crisis, is on education, healthcare, agriculture, youth empowerment and infrastructure.

“To revamp education and accelerate growth in the sector, we recently convened an education summit which brought together experts, educators, teachers, and parents to brainstorm on the way forward. We have also empanelled a technical committee to revitalize basic and secondary education. The committee has submitted its report and we are currently working to implement its recommendations”, he said.

Governor Buni said that along with education, agriculture and healthcare are front and centre of his administration’s attention.

“We have also concluded arrangements to host the first Yobe State Agricultural Retreat, which is scheduled for 16th to 19th of September 2019. The objective of the initiative is to enable us to build a strong and robust economy in our state by tapping into the opinions and experiences of stakeholders to move agriculture forward. I hope you will identify areas of interest through which you would support Yobe State for enhanced agricultural development”, he said.

Abdullah Bego

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