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By Israel Goodway
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The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Millennium Development Goals, Dr Precious Kalamba Gbeneol has called for enhanced service delivery, probity and increase in capacity building among all stakeholders in the quest to attain the MDGs.

She stated this at the opening of the pre-implementation workshop on the 2012 Conditional Grants Scheme, CGS to States held in Abuja.

According to Gbeneol, “It is important for me to note at this point that, it is our strong desire and commitment that through the Conditional Grants Mechanism, the Federal Government will encourage States and Local governments to build capacity that will improve their financial management systems, accountability and transparency as well as enhance service delivery in the sectors that will accelerate the achievement of the MDGs in Nigeria.”

Gbeneol who maintained that her office has recorded remarkable achievement in terms of States and LGAs implementing projects and programmes since the scheme was launched in 2007, laid emphasis on completion of on-going projects that will ensure ultimate success of the global initiative.

“At the Federal level we assure you of our commitment to ensuring the success of this initiative. We take completion of projects/programmes in accordance with set timeline seriously, and wish to urge States to fast track the processes to ensure quality and timely deliverance of good and serious projects/programmes as performance will be a strong referee for inclusion in CGS to State rounds in subsequent rounds.” Gbeneol stated.

In displaying her commitment towards ensuring success in the delivery of services to the people, Gbeneol noted that her office has ensured that the CGS implementation manual was recently revised to address the bottle necks that were experienced in the past as well as to re-position the country to effectively achieve the MDGs at this countdown stage towards 2015. The changes in the implementation manual, she said have provided clear cut distribution of roles and responsibility amongst stake holders in a bid to accelerating the achievement of the MDGS and its time lines.

The CGS as a partnership mechanism has availed the FG, States and LGAs the opportunity to leverage available resources to deliver on reform agenda for sustainable socio-economic development while providing the framework for solutions to the challenges of gender, maternal and child health, quality education, poverty issues, HIV AIDS, Malaria, environmental challenges, partnership and key enablers that address infrastructure, governance, accountability and the rule of law.

“Presently, according to Gbeneol, all the 36 states of the federation including FCT do have access to the CGS funds with remarkable achievement recorded in project implementation by states towards achieving the MDGs. Most importantly, a remarkable improvement on project completion has been achieved in 2011 rounds across the country (the number of abundant projects has reduced). However there is lot more to be done to ensure 100% completion across the State.”

The workshop was therefore in response to this challenge as it created a platform to bridge the communication gap between the three tiers of government which has benefited towards project conceptualization, planning, implementation and sustainability which has actualized national objectives of reducing poverty and achieving the MDGs. It also has objectives to build, strengthen and demonstrate the approaches of implementing the 2012 CGS to States, consolidate on achievements at all levels and bring stakeholders to be on the same page and identify difference at all levels in order to avoid delay in implementation, procurement and completion of projects/programmes as we approach the date line of MDGs in 2015.

“The expectations for this workshop are set within the context of challenges we face in the areas of appropriation and the capacity constraints at sub national levels. It is therefore imperative that we all open our minds to the opportunities provided by these challenges to chart a course towards our accelerating our collective drive towards achieving the MDGs within the context of our reforms! I therefore call on all participants to view the Conditional Grants Scheme, through the window provided towards addressing the 8 goals in your various states.” Gbeneol stated.

Speaking at the occasion, the Chief Servant of Niger State; Dr. Mu'azu Babangida Aliyu, whose state was applauded for emerging as one of the foremost in the quick and efficient implementation of the 2011 CGS round to States commended Dr Gbeneol and her team for their worthy initiatives and commitment to successful implementation and attainment of the MDGs. Aliyu stated that the SSAP has not disappointed the people and his government was willing and ready to continue to partner with MDGs office to ensure the success of the initiatives.