In what has been widely described as an unprecedented interest in the Nigerian economy especially since the exit from recession, 11 senior World Bank officials are billed to visit Edo and Lagos states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, on an impact assessment tour of the bank’s developmental projects in the country.
The states, it was gathered, will play hosts to 11 Executive Directors – considered to be an interestingly large delegation – who will assess the performance of the states on key development indicators, and review activities to determine the feasibility of extending more support to some of the programmes funded by the Bretton Woods institution in the country.
Experts familiar with the development say that the focus on Lagos and Edo states is as a result of the relative satisfactory performance seen in the two states after the World Bank’s extension of funding to strengthen institutions, develop infrastructure and reduce poverty.
“The stop at Abuja is for administrative reasons and will be to meet with top officials at the Presidency and the Ministry of Finance. But the visits to Lagos and Edo states are for first-hand review of their support towards strengthening institutions and infrastructures in the states.
“It is the first time since I have been monitoring the activities of the World Bank, that 11 Executive Directors will be embarking on such a visit. There must be a couple of things that Edo and Lagos starts are doing to deserve such a visit, shortly after the annual Spring Meetings of the World Bank.
“Lagos has a huge war-chest and is a darling to lenders, so the interest there is quite expected. But for Edo, it is said that they have recorded impressive milestones and have been scored really high by in-country teams. So, I am sure that the August visitors will want to go and see that for themselves,” one of the experts averred.
An official in the Ministry of Finance in one of the states, who pleaded anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said, “We are expecting that they will carry out holistic review of the programmes and hopefully extend some of the programmes.
“In some of the states, the focus will gravitate towards social development, agriculture, among others in rural areas. This includes the Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP), Community and Social Development Programme (CSDP), FADAMA development project, among others.”
He said he expects the states to impress the World Bank staff because of the level of reforms they have implemented, noting that the bank’s assistance has accelerated development in a number of rural communities in the states.