MDGs: Nigerian Federal Gov’t Commits ₦25BN To Development In 250 LGAs

By Israel Ekene

As part of its effort to further fast-track the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals in Nigeria ahead of the 2015deadline, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on MDGs, (SSAP-MDGs) Dr Precious Gbeneol has announced the scaling-up of the Conditional Grants Scheme to 250 Local Government across the country from the current 148 LGAs. The LGAs will be funded to the tune of N100million each to be counterpart funded by the state governments.

Dr Gbeneol, who made this known at the sensitization/ Training Workshop for the 2013 Conditional Grants Scheme to Local Government proposal writing and call for application held in Abuja stated that the scale-up is to further deepen the gains so far recorded under the Government of President Goodluck Jonathan by bringing remarkable development to the citizens through the provision of essential basic services such as water, healthcare services, education and poverty reduction.

The Conditional Grants Scheme (CGS) channels debt relief gains (DRGs) to states and local government areas (LGAs) in a bid to address Nigeria's most pressing developmental needs. States and LGAs apply competitively for grants from the CGS, which is dedicated to supporting sectoral initiatives to help attain the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Under the scheme, States and LGAs are required to provide matching counterpart funds for project securing funding under the CGS. Benefiting LGAs are entitled to N100 million annually which are counterpart funded by the states.

The initiative, since it was adopted, has scaled-up MDGs investment and directed resource and policy attention towards priority sectors, weak indicators and service delivery bottlenecks.

The CGS intergovernmental collaboration has been yielding positive results. Within the last three years, about 5,000 water projects have been provided across 113 LGAs including 1,536 ventilated and improved VIP latrines in the water and sanitation sector.

In the health sector the MDGs boss said they have successfully constructed, renovated and equipped 1,305 health facilities, innovatively engaged and trained about 2,610 village health workers, procured and distributed 277 referral vehicles (Ambulances), construction and renovated 61 health workers quarters with over 68,400 health workers trained. Under the education sector, she stated that a total of 1714 class rooms have been constructed and renovated,2,804,664 exercise books distributed, 79,067 benches and chairs have also been provided, construction of 18 teachers quarters and the engagement and training of education extension workers spreading across several LGAs in the country.

She added that her office has also engaged Academia and professional bodies in the implementation of the new system and have ensured timely completion of over 5,000 projects across 113 local government areas (LGAs), and 6,000 projects across the 36 states and Federal Capital Territory between 2011 and 2012.

Speaking at the event, the Head of the UK Department for International Development (DFID), Joe Abba praised the initiative, adding that it has brought succour to the very poor populace.

In his remark, the Chairman, House Committee on MDGs, Hon Hassan Ado Doguwa, stated that there is need for closer collaboration as the world count down to the 2015 deadline.

'We need to work harder to achieve the MDGS between now and 2015. With what I have seen in many conferences, Nigeria is ranked high in the achievement of the mdgs. We must stand to make sure it becomes a reality. We must be committed.

'During our inspection, we have seen a number of states that are not doing very well. The SSAP-MDGs is doing her best so are the lawmakers at the National Assembly. In some states there are abandoned projects, misplaced priority and even unutilized projects. I draw the attention of the stakeholders because if we want to achieve the MDGs we must all work together.

Whatever happens at the local governments, we must be held responsible. If any state government is not interested in the MDGS then we should use the funds to fund other states that are doing well. The MDGS are core goals that every politician should cherish. Every politician should imbibe the MDGS because they are developmental issues.' Doguwa stated.