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World Bank pledges to oppose anti-people president

Posted by From Mathias Okwe, Abuja on 2006/07/10 | Views: 458 |

World Bank pledges to oppose anti-people president


AS Nigeria's geo-political sections jostle to produce the next President, the World Bank at the weekend promised...

AS Nigeria's geo-political sections jostle to produce the next President, the World Bank at the weekend promised not to support any candidate whose mission is to plunder the treasury and impoverish the citizenry.

And should such a person emerge as President, the bank will not hesitate to review its relationship with Nigeria as well as on all its on-going projects' financing in the country put at $2 billion.

There are about 20 projects spread across the federation covering infrastructural development, education financing, healthcare support, poverty reduction based on the economic reforms and good governance being supported by the bank in Nigeria at the moment.

This position was disclosed in Abuja by its Country Director for Nigeria, Dr. Hafez Ghanem, at a ceremony where about N24 million ($186,000) was released to the new president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), Dr. Catherine Ginikanwa Oparaeke, for the enhancement of the quality of accounting practice in Nigeria.

Ghanem stated that the position was informed by views and emotions expressed by Nigerians of all strata in interaction with the bank on their aspirations for the post - Obasanjo era, pointing out that the current administration achieved some remarkable progress in terms of economic stability which needed to be maintained.

He said: "You can see what is happening to the economy in terms of growth, in terms of macro-economic stability, and in terms of Nigeria's ratings in the world. I am sure that these good policies will be maintained and continued. Good policies meaning fiscal responsibility, fighting corruption, and ensuring transparency. The bank has been working with the economic team in the past and will continue working with the team.''

The World Bank Representative continued: "I have walked around Nigeria overtime and I talked to people like yourself and students, the feelings I have is that Nigerians are sick and tired of corruption and so they want to fight corruption. Nigerians want to have better education for their children, better health care, improved power supply, clean and drinkable water and better infrastructure."

Ghanem spoke further: " On the economy front, I see those as the priority. On one hand, the government has to fight corruption and be responsible in the way it uses public money, and on the other hand, it has to ensure improved social service delivery for the population and improve infrastructure. This is the message I get as what Nigerians want. By the way, this actually is what is needed to get the Nigerian economy moving. But, there is need for good governance, better infrastructure and better public service delivery. "

" We are working with Nigeria and I hope we will be able to work with the country in the future and successfully. If you ask me my views on what kind of policies the next government should pursue, I just told you what is needed are policies to continue fighting corruption and ensuring good governance and transparency, better infrastructure - power, road, water, better service delivery and improved education. This is what is needed and I guess in terms of government, you have government that can deliver that.''

On its financing activities in Nigeria, Ghanem agreed that there was still a lot to be done because of the rot in infrastructure in particular due to accumulated neglect and lack of maintenance culture. He expressed hopes that the bank would increase its investment in Nigeria in future to tackle the challenges.

He said: " There is still a lot to be done in infrastructure investments, which are being carried out now. It will take time to come on stream. I hope and expect that we will start seeing improvement in the next few months. But there is always a time lag from the time you start building and the time you actually get the result."

He continued: "The building has started, the work is being carried out. Power is a very good example because what you need is not just to build the infrastructure but also opening up the system."

Ghanem spoke further: "Remember that Nigeria had a good power system in the 1980s but what happened? But there was a very bad maintenance system. The system did not allow for funding new investment. That is why the country fell into the problem we have now."

He added: "What you really need to do is to rehabilitate your investment and also invest more to get the service that is needed. Let's hope that we are all going to work together to put in place a system that will ensure maintenance and rehabilitation of the investments."

He continued: " For power and other infrastructure, about $1billion has been invested. The sum of $300 million has gone into power and the balance is mainly for clean and drinkable water and transport. Water supply is one of the millennium development goals. It is really important for fighting poverty and ensuring that children do not get diseases and so on and so forth. This is our mission -- fighting poverty. We are financing as much clean water as we can and also transport. The sum of $120 million is going to transport.''

Oparaeke had earlier commended the World Bank for its investment portfolio and support activities in Nigeria, especially in the war against corruption and assured the bank that the grant to ICAN would be judiciously used to facilitate capacity building among members.

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