The World Bank’s net commitment to Nigeria currently stands at $11 billion. This was disclosed by the Country Director of World Bank Group, Mr Rachid Benmessaoud, at the maiden ceremony of the Nigeria Portfolio Performance Award, organised by the bank and the Ministry of Finance.

The award ceremony was put together to recognise the outstanding performance from the implementation of World Bank-supported projects at states and federal levels.

According to Benmessaoud, the World Bank is committed to fighting poverty and 60% of its programmes will be implemented at the state level and another 40% by the Federal Government.

The projects cut across health, education, agriculture, social protection, energy, infrastructure, and governance among others in the 36 states of Nigeria, including the FCT.

World Bank

Benmessaoud stated that the World Bank was working on a new framework that could reform the challenges faced by the government.

“The country’s partnership strategy is always anchored on the economic reform plan of the government and in this case, we have used the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).

“This is the medium-term programme of the government on which we are anchoring our country partnership framework.”

He also said the award ceremony was introduced to recognise various entities that would drive the World Bank’s programmes in terms of finance.

We have different criteria with which we have evaluated these entities and we felt that bringing all of these entities together into an award ceremony would help us to recognise all of the good works they are doing and recognise those that have done something special that others can replicate.

“There is a lot of learning that we are emphasising in our engagements, states have to learn from each other.’’

Criteria for the awards: Benmessaoud said the criteria include the investments of various states, quality of briefings prepared and quality of mechanisms that exists at the state level.

He added that the awards would henceforth be an annual event and that Nigeria is the biggest beneficiary with more than 30 operational projects.

Reacting to the development, the Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai, commended the idea which he stated would make the states to compete at the level of governance. He promised Rachid that his state would assist the bank to implement its projects.

“One of the things I found upon taking office about four years ago was that most governors do not know what is going on as far as World Bank-financed projects are concerned.

“Often you find large amounts of money sitting idle that can be used for the benefit of the states that the governors are not aware of.

“The more the states carry out their projects, the more impact they will have on social sectors because most of the projects financed by the World Bank are targeted at social sectors like education, health care, nutrition and so on.’’

El-Rufai pleaded for more interventions like this and prayed for a frequency of lush funds as one single intervention cannot alleviate poverty at once.