Uzor Maxim Uzoatu
The World Bank has a well-earned reputation as a stickler for best practices. It is, therefore, an achievement of immense dimension that Anambra State has just emerged as the overall best performer in the assessment conducted by the World Bank in the South-East and the South-South zones on the execution and delivery of the global bank’s projects.
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The heartwarming information was delivered to Governor Willie Obiano at the Governor’s Lodge, Awka, when a 10-man delegation from the bank, led by its country director, Mr. Rachid Benmessaou, paid a courtesy call on the pacesetting governor.
Benmessaou and his team were on a two-day working visit to assess and review World Bank projects in Anambra State for the year.
Benmessaou revealed that the entire World Bank projects going on in Nigeria was worth about $10 billion with over $100 million being invested in Anambra State in different intervention, agricultural and community development projects. He did not mince words in giving vent to his pleasure at the handling and monitoring of projects going on in Anambra State.
It is in line with this thorough inspection that Anambra State emerged first in project delivery, monitoring, accounting and transparency in the 2017 assessment.
With the state getting a clean bill of health as a transparent achiever under Governor Obiano, Bebmessaou disclosed that Anambra State stands to benefit more from the World Bank as the institution had already resolved “to execute about four more projects in the state in rural electrification, rural access and agricultural projects and other intervention projects.”
Anambra State’s youthful Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning, Mr. Mark Okoye, was full of thanks to Mr. Benmessaou and his team for the momentous visit that rendered due honour to the state. It was a matter of profound delight for the resourceful commissioner that the World Bank is steadfast in its assistance to the state while reposing so much trust to award more funding for new projects.
Okoye divulged that the World Bank has been a fundamental partner to the state by contributing about 15 per cent funding to the annual budget of Anambra State.
The project management and monitoring agencies of the state were full of assistance to the World Bank team as they embarked on the assessment of projects in the transparent tradition that Governor Obiano has always championed.
A grateful Governor Obiano had ringing words for the World Bank team thus: “Your assistance has been germane to the achievements and success of the state. I commend your initiative through FADAMA to introduce all- year-round farming in the state. Your initiative, SLOGOR, is equally important as it aids accountability and due process.”
SLOGOR is a project funded by the European Union (EU) but implemented and managed by the World Bank under a trust fund arrangement.
Governor Obiano was alive with commendation for the World Bank’s Community Social Development Programmes. He pointedly stressed that he was as ever interested to participate actively and assist in any way necessary.
The only regret for Governor Obiano was that most of the farms sponsored by the World Bank are currently submerged by unrelenting floods in the coastal and mainly agrarian communities of Anambra State.
He, therefore, drew the World Bank team’s attention to the devastating effects of erosion in Anambra State, stating that erosion is ravenously eating away the little land mass allotted to Anambra as the smallest state in the federation.
Governor Obiano charged the World Bank to assist Anambra State in more ways toward fighting erosion. He revealed that there are 976 active erosion sites in the state even as the World Bank is assisting in 12 sites at present.
Assuring the team that Anambra State will continue to utilise World Bank funds for World Bank projects and transparently too, Governor Obiano encouraged the team to commit more funding to areas of dire need and thus save the state from impending disasters. The World Bank’s spirited intervention in several erosion sites through the Nigerian Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) greatly pleases Governor Obiano.
It is indeed remarkable that Governor Obiano gave the assurance that Anambra State will continue to emerge first in all assessments regarding the World Bank’s funding, project management and monitoring.
With the emergence of Anambra State as tops in World Bank’s projects in the South-East and South-South zones, it is obvious that Governor Obiano stands out as the lead to follow in the renewed drive toward regional integration. As Anambra State is now adjudged the safest state in the country and the state with the best road network, it is incumbent on other South-East and South-South states to key in to make the entire region the destination of choice in investment.
The World Bank country director, Benmessaou, and his team that gave the testimony of Anambra State ranking first in the implementation of World Bank projects, have given the ultimate testament to Governor Obiano’s inimitable mission to rebrand Anambra State.