EU To Support Delta With N3.3 Million Additional Grant

By Kenneth Orusi, Asaba
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The European Union (EU) has concluded plans to support Delta State with $17 million (about N3.3 billion) out of the $80 million grants to four states in Nigeria as part of the World Bank, EU and Delta sponsored State Employment and Expenditure for Results (SEEFOR) project.

Our correspondent recalls that the programme which started in 2013 in the state was designed to be executed for a period of five years and was being financed by the World Bank to the tune of $200 million with Delta receiving the sum of $39.7 million.

With the additional $80 million financial support from EU, Delta State is expected to receive $17 million, (N3.3billion) of the grants.

The Task Team Leader of the World Bank, Mr. Ismaila Sessay, disclosed this yesterday when he led the delegation of the World Bank and EU on a courtesy visit to the State Commissioner for Economic Planning, Dr Kingsley Emu, in Asaba, explaining that the four benefiting states in the Niger Delta region were Bayelsa, Edo, Delta and Rivers States.

Sessay, who doubles as the Head of Financial Management of the World Bank, said, the grant from the EU to the state might create room for an extension of the programme for another two years thereby attracting more relevant projects, stressing that the team would be in the state for few days to assess and review the mid-term implementation of the SEEFOR projects in the state.

According to him, with the EU coming into the project with its grant, there would be need to widen the scope of SEEFOR project in the state and also scale up the process.

“With this grant we should start looking at the whole platform of those people who are helping to create jobs, and by that, we are talking about the informal sector. Those people who are trying their best in improving the employment climate of the state”, Sessay explained.

While commending the state government, especially the project Coordinator, Mr. Benson Ojoko, for the implementation of the SEEFOR project in the state, Ismaila noted that the World Bank would continue to partner with the state in order to improve on what it is doing, “We are also looking forward to strengthen this relationship between the World Bank, the EU and of course, the Federal Government,’’ he added.

Sessay also assured that “as a team, we want to see Delta become one of the prime states in terms of project implementation. This project is one of the flagship projects in this state and we use it to pride ourselves that the project in Delta is indeed doing well”.

Responding, the Economic Planning Commissioner, Dr. Kingsley Emu commended the World Bank for the initiative and assured that the state would continue to strengthen its partnership with the affiliating agencies, especially in driving the SEEFOR project, noting that the SEEFOR programme had been able to impact positively on the socio-economic lives of the people of the state.

He noted that the objective of SEEFOR programme was in line with the "SMART" agenda of the State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, who is committed to the social-economic well-being of the citizenry.