The MDGs are fundamentally a requirement for us to meet basic local needs, primarily in the healthcare, education, water and economic sectors, across the whole of Nigeria. And the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to President on MDGs is to mandated as an enabler to coordinate and facilitate the structures and processes for this project.
Nigeria is blessed with great diversity, and combined with wide variation in the coverage and quality of basic services, this has always pointed to the need for solutions that are tuned to local priorities.
It is situation that informed the introduction of the Conditional Grants Scheme.
The Conditional Grants Scheme was designed to address the MDGs at the local level by providing additional funding to scale-up the MDGs activities of State and Local Governments. Many of the activities that will be required to meet the MDGs are in fact the constitutional responsibility of State and Local Government – activities like managing healthcare facilities, allocating teachers to schools, and investing in sustainable water supply schemes – and through the Conditional Grants Scheme, the Federal Government has been providing additional funding to support State and Local Governments in meeting the MDGs. The CGS was designed as a partnership and it has been effective and functional.
This process of engaging with the States to understand their priorities has also strengthened the partnership between the three tiers of government which has improved the availability of data on the status of key MDGs sectors at the sub-national level. The platform of the Conditional Grants Scheme has enabled us to encourage States to pursue initiatives that will improve governance and service delivery such as public expenditure reform, due process, capacity building of civil servants, and fiscal responsibility.
The overall aim is to fast track the implementation strategy of the MDGs at the states and constituency levels.
Funds for the Conditional Grants Scheme were first allocated under the 2007 budget, where they were focused on the health, water and power sectors.
It is on record that these funds have provided flexibility to States to design projects that reflect their local development strategies and MDG priorities, while the competitive nature of the funding ensures that only sustainable and high-quality projects are approved.
In 2008, funding was expanded and the focus was on health, water and youth empowerment. In addition, States were requested to provide counterpart funding to scale-up the impact of the Conditional Grants Scheme.
In 2009, the scope of the Conditional Grants Scheme was widened to capture health, water, skills and literacy, agriculture and conditional cash transfers.
For 2010 due consideration is being given to conditioning grants to Local governments so as to further scale up the efforts towards the achievment of the MDGs as we begin the count-down to 2015.
K.N Offie (Mrs),
Head Communication Unit,
Office of Senior Special Assistant on MDGs