Following the sustained progress that has been recorded in critical sectors of Edo State such as reforms of the public sector and the huge investment in infrastructure which have rekindled economic growth, officials of the World Bank, a major development partner of the state, will arrive Benin City on Friday May 11, to assess the impact of the bank’s-sponsored project, across the state.
Edo State has prudently applied its receipts, portfolios as well as technical support from the bank, which account in part, for the erosion control projects, road projects, sanitation, water, agricultural and policy reforms in institutions spread across the state, designed to engender inclusive growth. Specifically, the Bretton Woods institution will take stock of the number of people that have been moved out of poverty, projects’ s impact on the environment, reduction in child and maternal mortality figures, gender mainstreaming amongst other considerations, underlying the World Bank’s partnership with various states and countries. The May visit of the eleven (11) World Bank Executive Directors to Edo and Lagos states as well as the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, according to those keeping steps with the activities of the bank, shows the unprecedented interest in the Nigerian economy especially since the exit from recession. The 11 Executive Directors – considered to be an interestingly large delegation – will assess the performance of the states on key development indicators, and review activities to determine the feasibility of extending more support to some of the programmes funded by the bank in the country. In the World Bank mission are the Executive Directors for Switzerland, France, Italy, Peru, Germany, South Africa (representing Angola, Nigeria and South Africa), Burkina Faso (representing Francophone Sub-Saharan Africa), Zimbabwe (representing Anglophone Sub-Saharan Africa), United Kingdom and Indonesia. Experts familiar with the development say that the focus on Lagos and Edo states is as a result of the relative satisfactory performance seen in the two states after the World Bank’s extension of funding to strengthen institutions, develop infrastructure and reduce poverty. “The stop at Abuja is for administrative reasons and will be to meet with top officials at the Presidency and the Ministry of Finance. But the visits to Lagos and Edo states are for first-hand review of their support towards strengthening institutions and infrastructures in the states. “It is the first time since I have been monitoring the activities of the World Bank, that 11 Executive Directors will be embarking on such a visit. There must be a couple of things that Edo and Lagos starts are doing to deserve such a visit, shortly after the annual Spring Meetings of the World Bank.“Lagos has a huge war-chest and is a darling to lenders, so the interest there is quite expected. But for Edo, it is said that they have recorded impressive milestones and have been scored really high by in-country teams. So, I am sure that the August visitors will want to go and see that for themselves,” one of the experts averred. An official in the Ministry of Finance in one of the states, who pleaded anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said, “We are expecting that they will carry out holistic review of the programmes and hopefully extend some of the programmes. “In some of the states, the focus will gravitate towards social development, agriculture, among others in rural areas. This includes the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP), Community and Social Development Programme (CSDP), FADAMA development project, among others.” He said he expects the states to impress the World Bank staff because of the level of reforms they have implemented, noting that the bank’s assistance has accelerated development in a number of rural communities in the states.