Chuks Okocha in Abuja
Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasiru el-Rufa’i, has explained how he secured the $350 million loan from the World Bank, that’s being used to fix education in the state.
The governor made the disclosure on Monday night at a send-forth for the outgoing Country Director of the World Bank, Dr. Rachid Ben Massaoud, organised by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja.
He explained that when he assumed office in 2015, more than 200 schools in the state were in disrepair.
“I had a problem and I didn’t know what to do, and if I do nothing the children of Kaduna will be without a future.
“I took pictures of all the schools and converted the images into an album. Then I approached Ben Massaoud who asked me what I wanted to do? I told him, I need help,” el Rufai said.
The governor added that the following day, Massaoud called him, saying the duo met and brainstormed on the solutions to Kaduna State’s education sector. He explained that World Bank agreed to provide the funds and technical expertise, while the state government assured to would work hard to rebuild the schools.
El-Rufai advised his colleagues to also approach the World Bank with solid proof of their major problems, noting that the bank would be more than willing to help provided they adhered strictly to the requirements of the bank.
Technically, a governor only needs to stick to the principles of the Open Government Programme of the bank in order to benefit from the financial institution’s numerous initiatives.
El-Rufai, however, lamented some bottlenecks in processing the funds, explaining that it took almost nine months before the funds were approved, while it took the National Assembly almost two years to consent and give assent to the loan.
Earlier, the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, commended Massaoud, saying “you are not the first Country Director of the World Bank in Nigeria but you are the first that is receiving this treatment from a set of governors.”
He praised the outgoing country director for making himself very accessible to all and hoped that his departure from the office in Nigeria would not mean severing his links with the country.
Governor Willy Obiano of Anambra State, in his remarks, described Massaooud as an amiable person because they both shared the banking background. He noted that his state enjoyed seven intervention programmes of the World Bank under Massaoud.
In his response, Massaooud said “Nigeria Matters,” adding that when he arrived the country, he “became inspired by the nation’s youth, her faith, her hope, her diversity, her fun and her loving people.” He reiterated that the challenges of development are complex and difficult, and no one could do it but Nigerians themselves.
Massaoud, who said he now considered himself a Morroccan-Nigerian, regretted that he could not do all the work before leaving Nigeria.
Other top World Bank officials, who spoke at the occasion, also corroborated the accessibility of Massaoud and wished him success in his future endeavor.
The incoming Country Director, Dr. Shubham Chaudhuri, also attended the ball.