Laleye Dipo in Minna
Twenty-nine states in the country and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) are drawing from a $140 million World Bank poverty reduction grant to Nigeria.
Making the disclosure, the General Manager of the Niger State Community and Social Development Agency, Malam Ahmed Yussuf Usman, explained that to benefit from the programme, each participating state would determine the “poorest of the poor communities” based on certain indices provided by the World Bank.
Usman said among the indices are the level of infrastructure in the communities including the number of educational institutions, health facilities, roads and number of pupils enrolled in schools.
Similarly, benefiting states are to counterfund the programmes with N50 million every year.
Usman, in a chat with newsmen in Minna on Tuesday, said the first phase of the programme would end next year, but that the World Bank had given assurance that the scheme would be extended for another five years “because of its positive impact on the participating communities and its ability to reduce poverty among the people”.
Usman said the Niger State government has the potential of drawing N1.2 billion but that the government has so far collected N778 million in addition to counter funding the project with N150 million in the last three years.
The General Manager disclosed that 120 micro projects had been executed in 20 local governments participating in the scheme, pointing out that some of the projects executed included sinking of boreholes, provision of electricity, construction of schools and empowerment of women and building the capacities of junior and senior staff of local governments.
He however said the execution of 48 micro projects approved by the Agency for the first quarter of the year had not started but gave assurance that the projects would start before the end of the year.
On the poverty situation in the state, Usman said Agwara and Rijau were identified as the “poorest local governments in the state” adding that the richest local governments “are the urban local governments of Chanchaga, Bida, Kontagora, Lapai and Suleja”.
The General Manager said the major challenge the Agency is facing is “how to meet the huge number of requests from communities”, adding that: “as at today, we have more than 1,000 requests but we are treating them on first come first served basis”.