Govs beg World Bank to extend lending portfolio, review spending of $4bn

Governors under the auspices of Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), have asked the World Bank to extend its lending portfolio to the federal and state governments, saying at one percent lending rate, it was far cheaper that 25 percent commercial rate.

The country’s debt is N24.4 trillion, up from the 2017 figure of N21.725 trillion, which despite the 12.25 per cent increase from 2017, the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), Idris Ahmed, maintained that the current debt profile was “efficiently sustainable.”

NGF Chairman and Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, stated this at a joint press briefing with the World Bank Country Director, Rachid Benmessaoud at the end of a one-day interactive session on the bank’s ongoing development engagement across states in the country. Fayemi who said the meeting was to look at ways of engaging the bank’s subsisting portfolio and review things that states are doing right, what they need to improve on and how to accelerate deployment of resources that is available within the portfolio for states, noted that the question of not having enough resources need to be addressed. He said the bank was currently spending in the region of $4 billion in states, which include grants, loans, investments in states, with long-term moratorium and with low interest over a long period of time to offset those loan portfolio, saying it was important for both the governors and the World Bank to work on that engagement in terms of the lending operations, adversary activities and the concrete actions in the states.

Fayemi stressed that the NGF is “passionate about accountability with those who want to work with us as development partners, we are extremely focused on performance and result now and that has more to do with our people.

On his part, Benmessaoud noted that the number of poor people have increased in Nigeria. According to him, “fighting poverty in Nigeria and Africa is going to be absolutely critical for reducing poverty globally. Like the chairman said, better education, reducing the number of out of school children, the states fiscal performance, providing basic primary healthcare, a range of activities already implemented. We want to make sure that the new governors as well as returning governors are well aware of the programmes being implemented in their respective states and what it will take for them to accelerate pace of implementation.”

“We excited with this new partnership in the sense that both the returning and new governors, have the way forward so that at the end of the day it is not about how much money is being dispersed but how much lives we are willing to collectively transform. Are we able to bring life and succour to the lives of the much needed poor people in this region, are we are to provide healthcare and are we able to provide basic education especially for girls to go to school and to stay in school, are we are able to ensure pregnant woman is able to deliver safely in the hospital. These are the kind of development challenges we have before us.”