By AbuSatar Hamed
ABEOKUTA: As part of efforts aimed at addressing the challenges of erosion in Ogun State, the World Bank in collaboration with the Federal Government is set to release the sum of Five Million Dollars as take-off grant for the preparation and implementation of the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP) in the State.
According to a press release e-signed and made availabile to StarTrend Int’l magazine & www.startrendinternational.com by S.F. Ojo, SA Media to the Governor, the World Bank Task Team Leader for Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project, Dr. Amos Abu disclosed this when he led a delegation of the Bank and officials of NEWMAP on a visit to the State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun in his office at Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta.
Dr. Abu said the State was the latest to be factored into the project, owing to the high quality of its team whose members have shown energy, commitment and enthusiasm, adding that Ogun State has also met some conditions which included transparency, candor, accountability, probability and commiment.
His words, “We have assessed your project team and we discovered they are capable. We have assessed your readiness, commitment and internal control mechanism that will ensure that the resources that the Bank is bringing to partner with you will be used for the intended purpose.
“We have then agreed that, based on the quality of engagement with your team and the way they answered all our probing questions as well as the proposed work plan, we are convinced that when this money is released, it would be used for its purpose.
“So we are happy to announce that we will be releasing the sum of Five Million Dollars to the State. This is against the Two Million Dollars which we normally give to states. We want to assure you that we will work with your team so that we can begin to see the transformationary results that the NEWMAP is delivering”.
Dr. Abu also said NEWMAP had started contacting finance on behalf of the State for acceleration of the design process just as the priority size which the State has put forward, like the erosion site at Sagamu, Ijebu-Ode, Ilaro, Sango-Otta and Isheri-Olofin, have been noted.
The team leader commended the Governor for assembling a formidable team that has a common objective of delivering the dividends of democracy to the people, adding that NEWMAP has also come up with an idea of having quick wins that could deliver alternative means of livelihood that could lead to environmental sustainability and immediate job creation to the people.
Responding, Governor Abiodun who expressed happiness that the State has been incorporated into the Project, noted that his administration since inception had held series of discussions with the Bank on how it would assist the State in tackling the menace of erosion affecting some parts of the State.
Hear him, “We have been engaging the World Bank before I assumed office and raised this issue with NEWMAP, knowing that we were practically late and the kind of ecological challenge that we have in the State. I must appreciate the level of cooperation that allowed us to be a participant in NEWMAP.
“I want to also say that the level of commitment that you have seen from our team is not accidental – it is deliberate. It is because we have a good team – people with the right skills for the job – and the fact that we all have a vision that we keyed into and the vision is to be a focused, qualitative administration characterised by good governance.
“Whatever we need to do to facilitate this Project will be done as our Government will be accountable and transparent”.
Speaking in an interview, the National Project Coordinator, NEWMAP, Salisu Dahiru noted that the fund to be released was meant to start preparation, particularly on activities that would be needed to ensure that the identified sites are quickly attended to.
He commended the zeal with which the State was willing to tackle the issue of erosion with every support available.
Dahiru added that no fund was pre-allocated to any member state, but that the funds are released based on demand, adding that the funds are released after the designs were ready and the cost properly investigated.
“The way Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project is designed is such that no fund is pre-allocated to any state. It is demand-driven. If designs are ready for these five sites and the cost is done, whatever amount is required for them to be fully implemented is what will be allocated.
“It is not earmarked. Erosion and ecological issues are not implemented in phases – you don’t do one aspect and leave till funds are available. So whenever the design is available and the cost investigated, the entire amount needed for full implementation will be earmarked and released to the state, so that the implementation may not be affected by the release of funds,” he said.