Dr. Precious Gbeneol
Abimbola Akosile and Senator Iroegbu
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on MDGs (SSAP-MDGs), Dr. Precious Gbeneol, has revealed that her office has begun moves to scale up the Conditional Grants Scheme (CGS) to more Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the country.
Gbeneol, who described the move as part of her office’s strategies to fast track the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the country, called for host communities’ ownership of projects to ensure their sustainability.
She spoke on the sidelines of an advocacy, sensitisation and projects assessment tour in Lafia, Nasarawa State. Nigeria has 774 LGAs nationwide and many councils are already benefiting from the projects and activities of the MDGs Office.
The SSAP-MDGs visited key stakeholders in Nasarawa state including Governor Umaru Tanko Al Makura, his wife, Salamatu, the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Musa Ahmed-Mohammed and the Emir of Lafia, Isa Mustapha Agwai, among others, and called on the leaders to urge their people to protect the MDGs initiated projects.
She also held a town-hall meeting with the people to sensitise them on the need for community ownership of the projects, and to utilise and protect such undertakings.
Gbeneol pleaded with the governor, Emir, Speaker, the wife of the governor and other community leaders to use their positions to promote ownership of the projects by the people.
She specifically appealed to the state governor to enlighten communities on the need to participate in the process of planning, implementation, evaluation and maintenance of MDGs projects and programmes through a unique structure put in place from the local government to federal government level.
“I request that you direct the instrument of government, including the media to canvass for the community ownership of MDGs project so as to allow sustainability”, she appealed.
According to her, “Security can be provided by communities for such projects and minor repairs can be done without necessarily contacting government”.
She consequently requested the governor to begin preparations to build capacity and keep apart some funds as counterpart contribution for the additional LGAs to be taken on in the next phase of its programme.
According to her, MDGs has spent over N1.2 billion in providing social basic needs for the people of the Nasarawa state in 2011. “In 2011, Nasarawa state received the sum of over N1.2 billion with the state contribution half of the amount as counterpart funding. This is in addition to the intervention through the CGS”, she said.
The SSAP-MDGs noted that in the current phase of the programme, three LGAs, namely: Toto, Akwanga and Obi are currently benefiting from the CGS to the tune of N100 million each yearly.
“This is counterpart funded by the state and are channelled into projects such as primary health care in 90 locations, procurement and distribution of equipment to support PHC services in 90 locations, construction of VIP toilets in 90 locations and perimeter fencing for 90 primary health care centres”, she explained.
Responding, Al-Makura, who stated that the ideology of the MDGs is an extension of his government’s agenda, was full of praises for the MDGs boss for the developmental initiatives geared toward rural transformation.
He assured that state government would continue to pay its counterpart funding, adding that MDGs gesture is complementing state government effort in bringing to the people the much-needed dividends of democracy.
The Emir of Lafia, while commending the strides of the MDGs in bringing development to the state, noted that the MDGs projects are visible all over the state and are meeting the needs of the people.