WORLD BANK, EU SCORE OSHIOMHOLE HIGH ON PROJECTS IMPLEMENTATION
The World Bank and the European Union have scored Edo State Government high on its project implementation in the State.
The representative of the World Bank said they were in Government House on the midterm preview of the SEEFIOR Project.
The leader of the World Bank Representative, Mr. Ismaila Ceesay “This morning, we have started our mission and it is been a very productive mission so far. The Project Coordinator and his team have demonstrated to us that for all the 3 components of the projects, there is actually feasible progress in terms of implementation process. Being a midterm review, we need to discuss among ourselves and get the consensus of your government on areas that will require restructuring, if need be.
“We also look at the fact that since the EU money has not been forth coming but it is going to be available by next month, which is a grant to this government, that the project would require restructuring, not only restructuring for the purpose of accommodating the EU funds but also extending the life of the project by another 2 years.
“With this, we are all of the opinion that present development strides will be delivered in this state and other states that the project seeks to support. our management is very keen to continue with this support and for us to work with you, not to supervise you but to work with you on implementation support arrangement where if there are weaknesses in any area, we stand by you and support you in resolving those issues.
“We are not going to work with you as a policeman versus the citizens, we are actually partners in this and that is why we also with the clearance of the EU, we have to agree to put on the mission this time and this time, I am sure you will realize that we have multi-sectoral, multi skill, multi-competence team that will plan with your various officials in supporting the implementation of this very complex project. A project that has several multi skilled requirements in terms of providing implementation support.
“So, we stand ready to supporting you and so far, we are impressed with what we have seen. What we are discussing, we are getting all the information we required and since the mission did not happen for over a year, we now realized that exactly notwithstanding, your state has actually progressed on its own, implementing the activities that were agreed in the World Bank to be implemented and that issues are being resolved in a steady ,manner.
“The state grant issue which was a critical area of the bank problem under this project has since been resolved and we also understand and we gave seen some evidence that the state is not only trying to ensure that such an issue does not arise but are also implementing sustainability measures that will allow these projects in terms of outcome of it to continue to realize even when the Bank and the EU are not partnering with you, that is, assuming the project closes in 2017 to be extended again to 2019.
“We want to reconfirm to you that we the Bank and EU will stand by you in supporting your developmental strides which we have seen the progress that have been achieved in the past two years especially in the area of employment generation and financial management area
Oshiomhole in his response said, “We are very delighted and we feel quite honored to have you in Edo State to visit and see for yourself and to reconcile what is in the books to what is on ground and I think for me, that is the way it should be.
“It shows the level of your interest in our partnership. It is one thing to throw the dollar and the Euro at nation state or some national government to deal with perceived challenges, it is another thing to show personal interest in monitoring and ensuring g that those support translate to concrete terms and that they do have impact in the ;lives of actual human beings which is the primary purpose of government so I can’t thank you enough for coming and making painstaking effort in t5rying to look at what we are doing.
“For us, reforms have been the constant word. When I was in NLC we talk about revolution but now, we realized that to make state viable and to deliver services more efficiently, we just must have unbending reforms if we like, what appears whether by reasons of changes in technology or the complexity of society and the ever mounting expectations of our people, we need to continue to improve on efficiency in service delivery at minimum cost and maximum output and so we are encouraged.
“We don’t see it as policing, and I think the logic of democracy is that nobody is too big not to be monitored because we all can benefit at least from the fear that we don’t even want to be embarrassed if we were to be found that what we ought to have been able to do, we didn’t do it. That consciousness can make us to behave more responsibly and when state actors behaves more responsibly, people benefits from good governance and the challenge when it comes to that extent so we welcome your assessment as to what we are doing.
“I do the same thing here. I deal with all kind of files and all sort of opinions formed on the basis of well articulated memos from various MDA’s but for me, from time to time and without notice, I like to go and see whether those files memos elegantly written, well edited, whether what is on ground is just as attractive, because the entry point for the people is in terms of the deliverables which they can see which is why in this state. Over the period, we have sustained our political conversations around what we termed ‘eyemark’ and government shouldn’t just claim to have done. People should be witnesses to what government is doing and it must bring the people to bear testimony that those things are actually realized. Unless they can say so, our annual reports are meaningless.
“We appreciate your partnership, we appreciate your concern. At this time,. Our country is under severe pressure and you find, if there is anything to be learnt from the revelations in Abuja, is that we all can benefit from mutual policing. If that helps us to be more careful, if that helps us to do things better, if that helps to promotes greater transparency and some consciousness that at the end of the day, if you deny yourself the benefit of somebody looking to what you are doing and you think you can cover the books, when you are out of office, the books will be open and it will be read in a manner not prescribed by you.
“So, for me, I welcome this active engagement and physical interaction between the Bank, the Union and our officials. Things are very tight now, unfortunately for too long we have celebrated and abused potentials without making effort to translate those potentials. We have all lamented year in, year out about the dangers of an economy that is sustained on the basics of oil and from history of the product, we know that it can go as low as 9 dollars per barrel or as high as 140 dollars.
“ As much as we were all aware of this, it doesn’t look as if we all have taken concrete steps to prevent or prepare for the season that we have found ourselves in right now and around the country, when many states are unable to meet their basic obligations to pay workers, which is not just a moral issue but also an economy issue. When a state is the largest employer of labor and it default on its obligation to workers, workers defaults in their obligation to their landlords, and they default in their obligation to their children, default in the payment of school fees, default in patronizing the market, you have a terrible vicious circle, the way in which victims of this circle express themselves is very dysfunctional leading to social tension, crime which scares away investors .
“But we in Edo State saw this long ago, we try to focus very aggressively on internally generated revenue and we were able to pay salaries before December even though allocation from Abuja didn’t come un till January because we had to depend on our locally generated revenues. In our monthly meetings, we make that the first item in our agenda every week on locally generated revenue because every other thing we are going to discuss, whether we want to build school, we want to build hospital, we want to sustain our free education or free bus ride to students and maintaining our commitment to rural roads and rural infrastructures, we recognize that if there is no funding, nothing can be done and we do not want our ideas to die and the only way to translate them to action is to ensure that we look inward and not lament the fact that our has refused to behave responsibly.
“That is the only reason we have not picked up membership of the club of states that are defaulting in the payment of salaries.
“We also have had to fight battles because for too long, the Nigeria elites ate their cake and have it. There are people who acquired so much land but are not ready to pay for land use charge to provide access road, to deal with crisis of erosion and flood control. People consumed so much money celebrating people who died many years ago but they are not ready to pay for the consumption band yet when they had consumed so much alcohol, there are security challenges that we live with, provide vehicles for the police to deal with people who are drunk while on wheel.
“People want free education for their children because they are entitled to it because without education, if it is a world that is based on survival of the fittest, people like me won’t be here so to sustain the ladder that we used, we needed those who are making money to pay reasonable tax prescribed by law so that we can use it to address these social issues.
“When you look at the crisis in the country, people are looking at the consequences of many years of poor planning. When you look at the guys in the IDP camps, you will be surprised that they cannot speak English which means they didn’t have the benefit of primary education and that has been the reason why extremist can profit from their ignorance and convert people who are otherwise, decent human being to engage in acts that are completely dysfunctional.
“So we are sustaining our free education policy and because we are successful, many children are returning to public schools, putting pressure on the demand to employ more teachers and that means our personnel cost will continue to go up in times of dwindling resources. But since we are all unanimous that the child is entitled to at least 9 years of basic education, and in Edo State, we have increased it to 12 years of basic education, both primary, junior secondary and senior secondary, to provide this, we have also provided some subsidy that we think are efficient because they cannot be abused so that no parent have excuse not to send his child to school, we also provided free transportation to students on school uniform.
Also speaking, the EU representative, Mr. Yuan Hansla said, “We at the EU are very keen to see our additional finances that is going to be incorporated into the project to be finally approved and available by the end of this month to the beginning of next month. We are very happy to be partnering with the World Bank and National Planning Commission and with the different states that we are partnering with.
“What we have heard this morning has been very encouraging and we are looking forward to continuing with this project.