The World Bank has commended Nigeria for the successes recorded in the implementation of the Nigeria Covid-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus, initiative, NG-CARES, by the Nigerian and State Governments.
The NG-CARES Programme is a Nigerian Government initiative, supported by the World Bank and implemented in all 36 States and FCT. The programme seeks to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the livelihoods of poor individuals, farmers, vulnerable households, communities and owners of micro and small enterprises.
The World Bank Task Team Leader for Nigeria, NG-CARES, Professor Foluso Okunmadewa, gave the commendation at the Ministerial Town Hall Meeting on NG-CARES Programme with Stakeholders, States and the FCT officials in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
The event was also for beneficiaries to obtain and document information on achievements and challenges from direct beneficiaries. He noted that the programme is on the right track in supporting the poor and vulnerable groups in the country.
He said “We are actually very proud and of course excited to be part of this Ministerial Town Hall. We are quite happy when the Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, indicated that it is not only good to claim that there are results. The World Bank is very proud to be a partner of the Federal and State Governments on the NG-CARES initiative” he stated.
Okunmadewa affirmed that so far there had been substantial results and evidence that the approach is on the right track despite some of the challenges.
“Even though it was done by an Independent Verification Firm, it is also important to hear from the beneficiaries and particularly to do so in the presence of those who are in charge of delivering the results. I thought and I believe and that is also what we understand in the bank that it is the correct meaning of eye marking because when you do it in the presence of everyone then there is no dispute. And particularly if you bring the media in, then everybody will be able to confirm that this is a reality of what has happened,” he said
He gave the assurance that the World Bank was prepared to do an extension of the closing date which would be concluded in the next one week. According to Okunmadewa, this will allow the states to repurpose their resources apart from the ones that they have earned in the direction of other shops as well.
“It was not only Covid-19, we now have some other shops and fortunately the programme is designed in such a way that it can always help the state to respond to any vulnerability such as the one that happened recently on the flooding which affected a substantial number of states,” he added.
The Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Clem Agba disclosed that NG CARES Programme had impacted over two million poor and vulnerable beneficiaries in the 36 states and the FCT. Mr, Agba, said this was based on the report of the first round of assessment of the programme implementation conducted by an Independent Verification Agent.
“The Federal Government once again wishes to restate its commitment to restoring the livelihoods of poor and vulnerable Nigerians, maintaining food security and facilitating the recovery of MSES.
He explained that “The NG-CARES Programme is one of the policy options explored by our administration to achieve these objectives. In about a year of full implementation, NG-CARES, I am pleased to note, has impacted over 2 million direct beneficiaries,” he said.
Earlier, the National Coordinator of NG-CARES, Dr Abdulkarim Obaje, said the NG-CARES programme was a multi-sectoral programme intervention designed to bring immediate relief to the poor and vulnerable Nigerians that have suffered during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Obaje explained that the programme was a 750 million dollar facility from the World Bank that should be implemented ordinarily for two years. According to the National Coordinator, the programme covers two results areas and that is why it is multi-sectoral called social protection, food security and support for micro and small-scale enterprise.
Obaje said that it was on record that the World Bank directors approved the NG-CARES programme on Dec. 14, 2020, and the Federal Executive Council approved the loan request on April 14, 2021.
“And just within a spate of one week thereafter the National Assembly approved it on April 21, 2021. This emphasised the urgency for this intervention at that critical time” he explained. He also appreciated the Minister’s continuous support to ensure the successful implementation of the programme.
The Chairman of, the Federal CARES Technical Committee, Aso Vakporaye, said the town hall was organised to provide the government the opportunity to interact with implementing agencies and beneficiaries of the programme.
“NG-CARES, under the overarching framework of the social protection agenda of this present administration, is caring for the poor and vulnerable Nigerians and very soon, with improved commitment, the ability of Nigerian government, especially at the subnational level, to cope with the crisis, will sufficiently be enhanced,” he said.