World Bank President Robert Zoellick said on Tuesday in Washington that the portfolio of the bank in various projects in Nigeria had reached $4.2 billion (about N600 billion). He made the announcement at a meeting of the bankâ€™â€™s senior officials with Acting President Goodluck Jonathan at the World Bank Headquarters.
Finance Minister Olusegun Aganga said in Washington that the meeting was at the instance of the Bank to underscore its support for the government. He said: â€œ The meeting was very fruitful.
They were very impressed with all the decisions the Acting President has taken so far and with his style of leadership.
â€œWe urged the bank to do more to help Nigeria to achieve its goals and objectives. They were very interested in understanding the priorities of the current administration.â€ The minister said the meeting discussed crucial infrastructural and developmental needs of the country, and how the bank could partner with the government.
â€œWe talked about infrastructure; we talked about power, rail, the Petroleum Industry Bill and Niger Delta. â€œThe projects under the portfolio of the bank in Nigeria cut across finance, power, capacity building, infrastructure support in the Niger Delta, Lagos and urban water. In all these areas, they pledged to help and support us fully. I, as the Minister of Finance, have been asked to look at the various areas,â€™â€™ he added.
Aganga said Nigeria would continue to attract a lot of goodwill, in view of the fact that a lot of groups and international bodies were willing to associate with the current administration. He promised that as the goodwill comes in, government would not lose its track of driving the economy.
The minister reiterated that the National Economic Team would soon be reconstituted as promised by the Acting President. Aganga gave assurance that the members would include credible, sound minded and result-oriented Nigerians, who would fast-track the economy for quick results. The Managing Director of the Bank, Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, its Vice-President for Africa, Mrs Oby Ezekwesili, and the Nigeria Country Director, Mr Onno Ruhl, were at the meeting.
NAPEP, NDDC SET TO PARTNER AGAINST POVERTY
The National Poverty Eradication Programme NAPEP and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), have resolve to become strong allies in the fight against poverty.
The resolve was the outcome of a meeting between Dr. Magnus L. Kpakol National Coordinator of NAPEP and Mr. Chibuzo Ugwuoha the Chief Executive Officer CEO and Managing Director NDDC, when the two Chief Executives and their management met at the NDDC headquarters in Port Harcourt on the 4th April 2010. Addressing the management of NDDC, Dr. Kpakol said that NAPEP and NDDC are national allies in the fight against poverty. To succeed in this fight there is the need for institutions to leverage the advantages which exist within them.
Dr. Magnus Kpakol explained that to be successful in the fight against poverty the over 50% of the countryâ€™s population which is out of the production process must be empowered to contribute to economic national development. He informs the NDDC that NAPEP has programmes which NDDC can support to make the communities engines of economic activities.
One of such programmes is the Village Economic Development Solutions Scheme through which anchor processing activities are being established across the community. â€˜â€™ we need champions who would drive this process and the NDDC can play a critical roleâ€™â€™, Dr. Kpakol said.
The COPE programme according to Dr. Kpakol is another scheme which NDDC can support. COPE is Nigeriaâ€™s Conditional Cash Transfer Scheme which addresses poverty through conditional cash grants at the poorest of house holds
Furthermore, he mentioned other schemes too like the Village Trust Fund for Education and the Promise Keeper which are also possible areas of partnership with the NDDC.
Responding to Dr. Kpakolâ€™sÂ comments the Managing Director expressed delight at the NAPEPâ€™s visit according to him â€˜â€™ the task of NAPEP and that of the NDDC dovetail so neatly that it will be very easy for our two institutions to work together. The Managing Director promise that NDDC and NAPEP were going to work very closely in the fight against poverty.
He reveals that his organization has already embarked on educational programmes to enhance the capacity of Niger Delta youths to acquire the requisite empowerment that would make them competitive in the present global setting.