STATE GOVERNORS SUPPORT FULL DEREGULATION OF PETROLEUM DOWNSTREAM, SEEK $3.2 BILLION WORLD BANK FUND

By: Ede Ogbaba

In a move aimed at shoring up its lean resources to curtail the fiscal challenge faced across the states and carry out urgent developmental projects, state governments under the aegis of Nigeria Governors Forum are exploring the possibility of accessing about $3.2 billion from the World Bank. They have also thrown their full weight behind the federal government full deregulation of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry which led to price increase of the product from N86.50 to N145 per litre.
The chairman of the forum, Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State, told journalists on Thursday after their meeting at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa that the Forum decided to invite the country director of World Bank, Rachid Benmessaoud, to brief them on how to access the the money which largely belongs to state governments but has been lying down in the Bank, unaccessed.
Governor Yari said they decided to invite the World Bank to brief them because of the cumbersome procedure in accessing the funds and because of the urgent need for financial respite in view of the current financial difficulties facing the states.
The NGF chairman disclosed that one of the concerns the governors raised which the World Bank officials promised to look into is the difficulty in raising the needed counterpart funding, a major requirement to accessing the fund.
“We discussed sincerely on the issue of counterpart funding. It is more difficult for us to fulfil our own part because we are struggling to see how we can pay salaries; that is the most difficult aspect of it. And they promised that they will look into it and immediately that is done, the states will move fast to ensure we access it” 
He further disclosed that the Bank agreed to give them the details of how much is lying down for each state and how they can access it. In doing that, he said they are ready to facilitate a kind of workshop to the state governors and the commissioners of finance and other staff of the various states
Also speaking, Kaduna state governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai said the World Bank portfolio for the states for the 2016 was $4.25billion, out of which, he said, “$3.25billion dollars is lying there undisbursed”.
The Kaduna governor explained that the funds were idle because the states were not meeting their conditions or not moving fast enough to draw this $3.25billion dollars.
He stated that the World Bank wanted the states to withdraw the money quickly so that citizens would get maximum benefits from its intervention in the areas of health, education, rural access, agriculture and the revival of livestock and water supply.
Speaking on the deregulation of the petroleum sector, Ogun state governor, Ibikunle Amosun, said the deregulation should be considered as “sacrifices that must be paid by all”, explaining that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari means well for the country. 
“We believe that such money that has been saved from the subsidy would be used for infrastructural development particularly for social services for all of the down-trodden masses.
The position of the NGF is in tandem with that of the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom who was ably represented at the meeting by his deputy, Engr. Benson Abounu.
Governor Ortom has repeatedly stated his support for the full deregulation of the petroleum downstream. At the burial of late Elizabeth Egbi Ogbe, mother of the minister of Agriculture and Rural development, Chief Audu Ogbe, the governor called on labour and all Nigerians to support the deregulation, arguing that the policy would drive the economy better and that Nigerians would have better access to petroleum products with the deregulation.
STATE GOVERNORS SUPPORT FULL DEREGULATION OF PETROLEUM DOWNSTREAM, SEEK $3.2 BILLION WORLD BANK FUND STATE GOVERNORS SUPPORT FULL DEREGULATION OF PETROLEUM DOWNSTREAM, SEEK $3.2 BILLION WORLD BANK FUND Reviewed by Link Naija on 23:10:00 Rating: 5

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