Nigeria MDGs Colloborates with States on Projects

altThe Federal Government through the Office of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is colloborating with some stakeholders on implementation of some MDG programmes and projects at states and local government councils. The Senior Special Assistant to the president on MDGs, Hajiya Amina Az-Zubair told Economic Confidential, an online economic magazine in an exclusive interview that the new approach is desirable in ensuring that the beneficiary states are more accountable to the people through the projects. 

She said: “In the beginning we were doing it from the federal ministries down to the states, for the N10 that we may have spent on education, N2 may have reached a goal, for many reasons whether it is governments’ unaccountability, lack of efficiency, many reasons, no any one reason. But when we established a mechanism of grant to the states, we conditioned the grants; we allowed the states to take responsibility for knowing where the location of projects needed to be to attain the MDGs. 

“For also going through the due processes, that we had instituted in terms of our fiscal responsibility and our public expenditure reform, let them procure the contractors’ goods and services, so we let the money go to the states on conditions that you will spend on this particular programmes that will attain the MDGs.  

“In the beginning it seemed like a very big risk, but frankly, it has been a partnership that has worked. Because, we have given responsibility, we have held them accountable, we have a very good monitoring and evaluation mechanism, and essentially, we are partnering, it is not one over the other, and that we see that their success is ours, if they fail, we fail, it is very clear.“ 

Mrs. Amina also disclosed that her office is focusing on constituency projects through a partnership with the national assembly. She said: “When we are first asked to do this by Mr. President, we had to work out a framework; how do we make this a success. Because when anybody will hear constituency projects, they may have negative perspectives. But I think we made a success of it, we put the frame work round, and we made a point of trying to engage with the national assembly, and we are been able to focus this project from health, on education, on water; and I think the big plus is that, these projects have gone to every Federal constituencies in the country.  

“So by the time you look at the impact, is about us now trying to harmonize and report on that that there has been portable water where they’ve never been before, there have been additional classroom block where they are much needed, and there has also been a health facility.” 

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on MDG also disclosed how MDGs are funded from debt relief gain and federal appropriation. She said: “When we got the debt relief, we made a saving, it is not money that was given to us in touch and feel, it is a saving that we made, so instead of just sort of melting into the budget, we decided that let us put it as a line item, set it aside in a virtual poverty fund, and dedicate it towards MDGs related events. 

“We save about a billion dollars a year, where we would have been paying off in interest and others, but of that $1bn, 75% of it is what the Federal Government owed, the 25% is what the states owed. And the states really, because that is their budget to the MDGs, so it can easily be identified. But at the Federal, it is not our primary assignment to spend on rural level programmes, this is additionality. So we are able to track it in the key ministries; ministry of health, ministry of education, ministry of water resources.” 

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are a series of eight time-bound development goals that seek to address issues of poverty, education, gender equality, health, the environment and global partnership for development agreed by the international community to be achieved by the year 2015. One of the major sources of funding is the debt relief gain that results in a saving of $1bn per annum that would have otherwise been spent on debt servicing. The saving is dedicated to and spent on MDG related projects and programmes. Following the debt relief extended to Nigeria in 2005, a Virtual Poverty Fund was established to ensure that monies released from the debt relief are channeled towards initiatives to reduce poverty. Since 2006, on an annual basis, about US$1billion has been allocated to support progress in health, education, water and sanitation, environment, energy, housing, women’s rights, HIV&AIDS, social safety nets (including micro-credit scheme and conditional cash transfer), the conditional grant scheme to state governments and for the provision of rural infrastructure. This fund facilitated the establishment of monitoring framework for tracking its expenditure and evaluating its impact. Through the involvement of the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), this monitoring framework has been used to track the performance of the activities implemented under the Debt Relief Gains (DRG).

Please check the Interviews Section of the Economic Confidential to read the exclusive interview on MDGs in Nigeria


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