The World Bank says it has committed about N13bn ($41m) to six projects in Oyo State, including Urban Flood Management Programme, Ibadan Master Plan, health and agriculture, as part of its efforts to partner the state government’s socio-economic development agenda.
But, the state Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, wants the apex global financial institution to do more for the state in view of the pervading economic recession that has incapacitated the state from harnessing its huge potential.
The governor bared his mind while hosting the World Bank Country Director, Mr. Benmessaoud Rachid, and his mission members in his office in Ibadan, on Monday.
Thanking the World Bank for extending its largesse to the state so far, Ajimobi called for further cooperation and support of the institution in the renewed drive of the state to make agriculture the fulcrum of its economic revival agenda.
He told the visitors that the state had a comparative and competitive advantage in agriculture, including a high concentration of research institutions, vast arable land, manpower and clement weather condition capable of making it to excel in agriculture.
If its potentials were well harnessed, the governor was optimistic that the state was capable of surpassing the success story of the likes of Kebbi State, which is renowned as the highest rice producer in the country.
Ajimobi said, “Your earlier collaborative efforts in agriculture, like FADAMA, State AIDS Control Agency, and others are laudable. But, in the face of the current economic recession, it is our belief that only agriculture can take Nigeria out of the economic doldrums.
“I’m impressed by the position of the Country Director on the need to work together with our state for service delivery. There is a need to add value to crops production as different from harvesting and exporting raw agricultural produce. Our current vision is to get to the level of total package; we must be using cassava for chips, starch, pharmaceutical purposes, among others.
“We were initially unhappy with the low level of deliverables and slow response of World Bank to our call for support during some moments of emergency, but we want to believe that this trend will change for better with this visit. We will appreciate an early response to our call for assistance during emergencies.”
The governor called the World Bank’s attention to the health, environmental and education sectors, stressing that the state government had on its part embarked on Out-of-school projects, training for teachers and provision of educational infrastructures, flood management, and waste-to-wealth project for power generation.
Ajimobi advocated the need for factual reportage of execution of collaborative programmes between the state and the World Bank, explaining that the programmes were mostly hinged on repayable loans.
Earlier, the Country Director had informed the governor that the team was in Oyo to demonstrate the bank’s commitment to the state and its preparedness to partner the state government in its efforts aimed at reducing poverty among the citizens.
He described the state as a hub of education, while he noted that there a was a need to give adequate support to the sector towards building good educational infrastructures for the youths, with the ultimate goal of attracting good jobs for the teeming unemployed population.
Rachid said, “The World Bank has six different projects worth over $41m, among others in Oyo State. It is important for projects currently embarked upon in the state to be fast-tracked for mitigating efforts in HIV/AIDS, youths empowerment, and the health sector.
“Oyo State has all it takes to be financially independent of the Federal Government as it is the hub of education standards in the country. With this, every other needed impetus would easily be applied and help the youths to attract good jobs for the state unemployed youths.”