As part of its strategies to fast track the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on MDGs has finalised plans to scale up investments on MDGs related projects at the states and local Governments levels.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on MDGs, Dr Precious Kalamba Gbeneol made this declaration in Lafia, Nassarawa State, while on advocacy, sensitisation and projects assessment tour in the state.
While addressing the governor at the government house Lafia, Dr Gbeneol disclosed that her office plans to scale up the conditional grants scheme, (CGS ) to more Local Government Areas and consequently requested the governor to begin preparations to build capacity and keep apart some funds as counterpart contribution for the additional LGAs to be taken on in the next phase of the CGS programme.
According to her, MDGs has spent over N1.2 billion in providing social basic needs for the people of the Nasarawa state in 2011.
“In 2011, Nasarawa state received the sum of over N1.2 billion with the state contribution half of the amount as counterpart funding.” This is in addition to the intervention through the CGS to states.
Dr Gbeneol noted that in the current phase of the programme, three local governments areas, namely: Toto, Akwanga and Obi are currently benefiting from the CGS to the tune of N100m each yearly. This is counterpart funded by the state and local government to the tune of 60/40% respectively and these funds are channelled into projects such as primary health care in 90 locations, procurement and distribution of equipment to support PHC services in 90 locations, construction of VIP toilets in 90 locations and perimeter fencing for 90 primary health care centres.
The Senior Special Assistant, who seized the opportunity to pay an advocacy and sensitisation visit to key stakeholders in the state maintained that the OSSAP-MDGs is not leaving any stone unturned in the quest to beat the target date of the global agenda. Particularly, Gbeneol visited the Governor of the state, Umaru Tanko Al Makura, his wife, Salamatu, the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Musa Ahmed-Mohammed and the Emir of Lafia, Isa Mustapha Agwai. She also held a town hall meeting with the people of the state to sensitise them on the need for them to own the projects, utilise and protect them.
Gbeneol pleaded with the governor, Emir, Speaker, the wife of the governor and other community leaders to use their positions to promote ownership of the projects by the people.
“In view of your exalted position that holds sway on public opinion, I will be glad if you could encourage communities to access available maternal and child healthcare services in order to reduce maternal and infant mortality. Mothers should be encouraged to make their children available for immunization against the killer diseases. Kindly use your good offices to impress it upon communities that the projects delivered by the MDGs office belong to them and as such they need to take ownership for sustainability.” She said.
She specifically used the opportunity to appeal to the state governors to enlighten communities on the need for them to participate in the process of planning, implementation, evaluation and maintenance of MDGs projects and programmes through a unique structure that have been put in place from the local government level to federal government level.
“I request that you direct the instrument of government, including the media to canvass for the community ownership of MDGs project so as to allow sustainability,” she appealed.
According to her, “Security can be provided by communities for such projects and minor repairs can be done without necessarily contacting government”.
Responding, Governor Tanko Al-Makura, who stated that the ideology of the MDGs is an extension of his government’s agenda, was full of praises for the MDGs boss for the developmental initiatives geared toward rural transformation. He assured that state government would continue to pay its counterpart funding, adding that MDGs gesture is complementing state government effort in bringing to the people the much needed dividends of democracy.
The Emir of Lafia, while commending the strides of the MDGs in bringing development to the state noted that the MDGs projects are visible all over the state and are meeting the needs of the people.
Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Musa Ahmed-Mohammed and the wife of the governor, Salamatu Al Makura also lauded the activities of the Gbeneol led MDGs office in the state.