By Adedapo Adesanya
The World Bank said it has disbursed the sum of N35.3 billion to all the 36 states of the federation and the FCT as an advance payment for the implementation of the Nigeria COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus Programme (NG-CARES).
This disclosure was made by the Lead Specialist, World Bank Country Office, Abuja, Mr Foluso Okunmadewa at the 1st Implementation Support Mission for NG-CARES on Tuesday in Ikeja, Lagos.
He said that the programme was organised for the World Bank, the federal government and state delegates who would be participating in the implementation of the programme with Lagos as the host state.
Mr Okunmadewa, also the Task Team Leader, NG-CARES, World Bank, Abuja, said that all the 36 states were running the programme and had become effective in every state.
He added that the World Bank’s teams were in Lagos, Enugu, Yola, Birnin-Kebbi, adding that all the 36 states are participating in the implementation mission this week.
He added that the team had started going round all the 36 states for this particular mission to help them as they start the implementation process.
NG-CARES is a $750 million intervention programme that started running in 2021 and would end in 2023.
It is a collaboration between the World Bank, the Federal Government and the 36 state governments.
According to him, the total allocation to each state of the federation is the equivalent of $20 million but it is result-based financing, so the money is not given to the state upfront.
“But because most states do not have enough resources to start the intervention, advance money was given to the states.
“Advance were given to the states at a different amount ranging from $500 million to $1.3 billion in some cases.
“A total of N35.3 billion has been disbursed as of yesterday (Monday) to all the 36 states of the federation and the FCT as advance.
“It is hoped that by the next six months when the World Bank must have verified the results from the states, the second disbursement will take place and the advance will be recovered.
“Lagos state is among the best, It got N900 million,” he said.
Mr Okunmadewa said that NG-CARES was set up to alleviate the impacts of COVID-19 on livelihood, welfare, food supply system, the informal sector and the local economy.
He noted that due to the pandemic, many people became poor while others became poorer.
“It’s true that when COVID-19 pandemic was rampant, people recognised its immediate impact on their lives and also recognised that it was affecting livelihood.
“Even now that the effects on lives, sickness and all other things may have subsided, the impacts it had to have on livelihood, on the level of welfare of people, on food and supply system, impact on the informal sector, local economy, are still there.
“Those impacts need to be alleviated in a way.
“People who were poor before COVID-19 became poorer, people who were not poor before the pandemic became poor. Now there is no doubt that they needed to be supported,” he noted.
The team leader said that the World Bank had adopted a performance-based-financing approach that would ensure that the support gets to the average Nigerians who are really in need of the intervention.
He noted that unless and until the government itself works with the people that really need this assistance and provides them with the assistance upfront; the outcome and the output are verified, the refinancing from the World Bank would not come.
“The finances follow the results, it does not follow the activities, it does not follow training and capacity building.
“It actually follows the number of farmers that have been assisted, the number of poor households that have been given social transfers, the number of local enterprises, micro and small scales that have been facilitated and recovered.
“Based on that, the government is now giving the resources, it is result-based financing and on that bases, the monitoring is implicit and I must say that all the 36 state governments of Nigeria, including the FCT, have bought into this approach.
He said that it was left for the states to actually decide the beneficiaries of the intervention, adding that it is not decided by the World Bank or any federal institutions.
“Each state looks at the poor amongst their people, the people who actually need the assistance and they are the ones they give it to.
“There is no way to circumvent it more so that independent verification agents are then going to go out, third party monitoring is going to talk to the beneficiaries who received it.
“The state government knows that if they give it out to those that do not need it, and verification and monitoring agents say so, the state will not receive the resources for it,” he said.
On the part of the host state, the Lagos State Commissioner for Budget and Physical Planning, Mr Sam Egube, said that the state was participating in all interventions that suit it and that would alleviate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its citizenry.
He noted that the total budget is about 20 million dollars per state and the FCT and a total of 750 million dollars nationwide.
He said the introduction of the NG-CARES by the Federal Government and an initiative that had been supported by the World Bank to mitigate the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic was a welcome development.
He added that the state government had put in place the necessary machinery that would ensure smooth implementation of the intervention in accordance with the dictate of the operational manual.
“As a demonstration of our commitment, Mr Governor has approved the deployment of existing platforms and MDAs with good track records to deliver on the programmes’ result areas and the disbursement link indicators.
“They are: the Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, the Ministry of Wealth Creation, Office of the Sustainable Development Goals and they are to handle cash transfer, basic services and livelihood supports.
“FADAMA project in the Ministry of Agriculture will work on food security and safe functioning of food supply chain while the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund will be facilitating, recovering and enhancing the capabilities of MSMEs.
Mr Egube said that the Lagos State Government had received N900 million as an advance payment for the implementation of NG-CARES as of March 7.
“Lagos will be intervening in the agricultural programme, training people in farming skills and in the management of farm business, cash transfers that will be happening and several interventions that are humanitarian in nature that will be happening.”
Also, the State Commissioner for Finance, Mr Rabiu Olowo, said that Lagos was ready for the implementation of the NG-CARES.
Mr Olowo noted that the implementation of the project was solely the responsibility of the Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning.
He added that the Ministry of Finance would facilitate the disbursements of funds for the smooth implementation of the project.
ICAN, BOI Partner to Drive Stakeholders Inclusion in Tech
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and the Bank of Industry (BOI) have strategically inaugurated an ICAN-BOI Tech Hub that will promote job creation, entrepreneurship and skill development in the technology space.
This was the central point of the tech hub inaugurated on Tuesday at the ICAN annexe office in Lagos which will ensure that members of the institute and the public can access the necessary skills and competencies required to become job creators and productive contributors in today’s tech-savvy world.
According to the Managing Director of BOI, Mr Olukayode Pitan, the project was necessary, given the increasing importance of technology to development and youth empowerment.
Mr Pitan said the dominant role of technology in many professions, including accountancy, had transformed the way businesses operated, resulting in improved efficiency, cost-saving, and simplified processes.
“The tech hub shall encourage development and testing of new ideas, products and business models as well as create an environment to prepare for start-ups and existing businesses for sustainability.
“It also aims at boosting business mentorship, market linkages and accelerated programmes to enable young entrepreneurs to scale up.
“Technology, innovation and entrepreneurship are key factors shaping global trends and there is a need to continually scale up on them for our national economic growth and development,” he said.
The BOI boss noted that young people were embracing an entrepreneurship mindset and technological skills, which had resulted in the provision of innovative solutions servicing millions of people in diverse sectors.
According to him, the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector contributed 14.7 per cent to the gross domestic product in 2020 and increased to 15.21 per cent in 2021.
“We can see a perfect example of the value of tech hubs when we consider Silicon Valley, which is one of the earliest tech hubs in the world.
“It houses the headquarters of many of the world’s largest high tech operations as well as thousands of promising start-ups and we have started on that journey here in Nigeria.
“Nigerian Fintechs are fast gaining recognition globally. In 2021, Nigerian FinTech start-ups raised about $1.37 billion out of a total of $4 billion raised by African start-ups despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In Nigeria, we can boast of having technologically-driven products and services such as Flutterwave, Opay, Andela, Interswitch and Jumia.
“This shows the growing significance of ICT in driving the economy,” he added.
Mr Pitan also added that the BOI, through its corporate social responsibility programmes, would proactively continue to support the establishment of tech hubs across the country.
He said the ICAN-BOI tech hub collaboration brought the total tech hubs established by BOI to 10 in six states across the country.
“Structurally, the ICAN-BOI tech hub boasts of over 250 co-work desks, meeting rooms, private offices, a relaxation centre and a hybrid area for organising competitions and hackathons.
“In collaboration with ICAN, we have made provisions for all divider networks, IT equipment, power supply and all required to enable the hub function at optimal capacity.
“The bank is committed to making all its financing products and services available to bankable projects that emanate from users of the tech hub.
“We are confident that this hub will help users to innovate, incubate, collaborate and scale up as they become employers of labour and contributors to the economy of the nation,” he said.
The 57th ICAN President, Mrs Comfort Eyitayo, adding her input said the hub was positioned to empower users through different stages from idea generation to actualisation of products or services.
Mr Eyitayo expressed gratitude to the management of BOI for partnering with the institute to ensure members and youths were equipped with the necessary skills for economic growth and development.
On his part, the ICAN Registrar, Professor Ahmed Kumshe, commended Eyitayo, who through the ICAN Entrepreneurship Development Centre initiative brought about the partnership with BOI that resulted in the establishment of the tech hub.
He urged the institute to enlighten members and students to maximise the benefits of the hub since technology had taken over every aspect of life, especially in finance.
Lagos Guber: Group Alleges Plot to Disqualify Mustapha
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
There is a plot to disqualify a former permanent secretary in the Lagos civil service, Mr Olorunfemi Mustapha by the screening committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) ahead of the 2023 governorship election in the state, a support group known as Mustapha4Lagos Agenda has alleged.
The body, which is working for the actualisation of the gubernatorial ambition of the gubernatorial aspirant, claimed that the reason for the plan to disqualify Mustapha is to give the incumbent Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, an easy ride to the government house next year.
Mr Sanwo-Olu wants to serve the state for another term of four years when his current tenure expires on May 20, 2023, but Mr Mustapha also wants the position. However, he must get the party’s ticket to unseat the Governor or go to another party to contest against him.
In a statement issued on Thursday, the head of Mustapha4Lagos Agenda, Bukola Ogundipe, claimed that the strategy is to screen out Mr Mustapha today as he is regarded as one of the biggest threats to Mr Sanwo-Olu.
The group revealed that the politician’s legal team is meeting with the national body of the party to quash the plot.
“We have uncovered a plot to disqualify our aspirant from the race; they know that the only way they can stop Mustapha from getting the party ticket is to make sure he doesn’t participate in the primary.
“Let us forget about the noise they are making, he is the man to beat. We are very certain that their plot will not see the light of the day because Mustapha is clean and meets all the criteria required by the constitution of our party and the guidelines for the elections,” Ogundipe said.
“As we speak, our lawyers have met with the leadership of our party in Abuja to make sure that this evil plot does not see the light of the day. The national body must step up and quash this evil plan.
“Sanwo-Olu has been throwing money around, spending billions to buy people but this is about the future of our state and the leadership of our party in Lagos knows that we can’t continue with the abysmal performance of the incumbent,” Ogundipe added.
80% of Buhari’s Ministers, Appointees Grossly Incompetent—CNPP
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) has claimed that 80 per cent of the Ministers and appointees of President Muhammadu Buhari are grossly incompetent.
The group, which made this claim in a statement signed by its Secretary General, Mr Willy Ezugwu, on Tuesday, called for an overhaul of the cabinet and an injection of fresh hands.
“It is about time President Muhammadu Buhari overhauled his cabinet and injected fresh hands with new ideas into the federal cabinet to redeem his image within the remaining one year of his administration.
“By our several assessments, at least, 80 per cent of President Buhari’s ministers and appointees have proved to be grossly incompetent in the last seven years.
“Worse still, many of the appointees swim in unprecedented corruption that was unimaginable even in the years of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governments.
“President Buhari as a former Head of State could not afford about N53 million presidential nomination forms seven years ago and the ease with which virtually all his ministers bought the exorbitant presidential and governorship forms of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) should be the clearest signal that most of the presidential appointees have been corruptly enriching themselves.
“For us, the recent corruption case involving the country’s Accountant-General is one of the least among the appointees. And if a financial gatekeeper like the Accountant-General of the Federation can be involved in such a monumental fraud, then President Buhari’s administration has a lot of image redemption activities to carry out before 2023.
“This can be best achieved by the immediate replacement of most of the current ministers and appointees who have obviously not delivered meaningful democratic dividend since their appointment,” the CNPP stated.
Meanwhile, the group has applauded the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, for withdrawing a suit he filed against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, over his alleged 2023 presidential ambition.
The central banker had approached the court to argue that the electoral body and the nation’s chief law officer do not have the right to stop him from becoming the president of Nigeria next year while still being in office as CBN governor.
After he could not submit his presidential forms procured for him from the APC, Mr Emefiele withdrew the suit from the court.
This action sweetened CNPP, which described it as “a step in the right direction,” commending the banker “for being a good listener and respecter of public opinion.”
In a statement signed by its Secretary General, Mr Willy Ezugwu, on Tuesday, the group also appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to sack “incompetent and corrupt Ministers” in his cabinet.
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