The World Bank has thrown its weight behind the ongoing developmental drive of the Godwin Obaseki-led administration in Edo State, urging other states in the country to replicate the Edo model.
Country Director of World Bank, Nigeria and Co-ordinating Director for Regional Integration Programme in West Africa, Rachid Benmessaoud, who led the bank’s delegation on a visit to the governor at the Government House, Edo State, on Thursday, said: “Obaseki has established a flagship effort that has resulted in the Edo Azura Power Plant where he brought the World Bank Group together and we are ready to replicate the model and build more Azura projects in Nigeria and West Africa.”
He was accompanied on the visit by the Country Manager, International Finance Corporation (IFC), Nigeria Office, Eme Essien; Programme Leader, Muna Salih Meky; Programme Leader, Kofi Nouve;
Lead Procurement Specialist, Bayo Awosemusi; Senior Private Sector Specialist, Feyi Boroffice; Senior Agriculture Economist, Adetunji A. Oredipe; and Senior Operations Officer, John Paul Ngebeh, amongst others.
Benmessaoud explained that the strong partnership between Edo State Government and the World Bank is highly cherished by his institution, and commended the insistence of the Obaseki administration on transparency and accountability.
“I want to assure the governor that the World Bank will help in addressing the human capital needs by pulling her resources together to support the Edo State government,” he pledged.
In his response, Obaseki expressed the gratitude of the Edo State government to the World Bank for finding the state a worthy partner in their commitment to bring development to all Edo people and residents.
He showcased the achievements of the government in agriculture to his guests and said that one of his goals is to replace crude oil with oil palm, as aggressive effort is being made to make Edo State the oil palm hub in the country and beyond.
He highlighted some of the challenges faced by his government, including illegal migration and human trafficking, explaining that 60 per cent of returnees to Nigeria are from Edo State.
According to him, “Trafficking is high because the people are very aspirational and are prepared to take the risk of embarking on the dangerous journey. If they can turn such zeal to learning a skill and contribute their quota to development, the nation will be a better place for us all”.
Obaseki further said that in the state alone, about 3,300 people have returned home after a painful experience in Libya and elsewhere and added that his administration has been reintegrating them into the society through a bouquet of initiatives including creating jobs, mentoring, technical and vocational education; skill development programme, amongst others.
Benmassoud’s visit follows the visit of 11 Executive Directors of the Bretton Woods institution, who were in the state for on-the-spot assessment of the bank-sponsored developmental projects in the state, recently.