By Emmanuel Acha
Dr Adetunji Oredipe, the Task Team Leader, World Bank Office in Nigeria, has described the level of implementation of FADAMA III Additional Financing (AF) programme in Enugu State as worrisome.
He also called on the state government to exhibit more political will by paying the counterpart funds for the project so as to enable it to draw additional funds from the capital set aside for the project.
Oredipe, who spoke in Enugu on Thursday during the World Bank/FGN Joint Mid-Term Review Mission tour of the state, bemoaned the state of the project implementation in the state.
He said that the state was expected to draw down 25 million U.S. dollars between 2014 and 2017, adding, however, that it had only been to access only 3.15 million dollars.
He said that in most participating states like Niger, implementation of the FADAMA project had been able to reach 70-per-cent completion, while Enugu State only recorded 12.8-per-cent completion.
Oredipe blamed the situation to the non-payment of counterpart funds which, he said, was a pre-condition in efforts to assess FADAMA funds.
He said that it was paradoxical that Enugu State, which was desirous of development at such a critical period in national life, would be indifferent to getting such “free’’ money from the World Bank.
“As far as Enugu State is concerned, we have not performed with regard to FADAMA III AF project. The project in other states has reached 70 per cent completion; Enugu State has to go faster than it has gone,” he said.
Oredipe said that the FADAMA III AF project was a 200-million-dollar investment sponsored by the World Bank in six core states.
“We are here to review the first phase of the implementation as well as review the targets,” he said.
He said that although the project experienced some hiccups at the beginning, it had, however, recorded significant progress across board.
Oredipe, nonetheless, commended the Enugu State Project Coordinator (SPC), Mr Ikechukwu Ogboke, for the zeal and passion he had exhibited in efforts to ensure the success of the project in the state in spite of the obvious challenges.
Speaking, Chief Ogbonna Idike, the Permanent Secretary of the State Ministry of Agriculture, said that even though the state owed arrears of counterpart funds, there was no doubt that it was interested in the project.
He said that the state governor had taken concrete steps to ensure the payment of the debt within a short time.
The permanent secretary said that Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi had made a commitment to be remitting N10 million every month from the state’s security vote for that purpose.
Idike said that the governor started the process in 2016 but could not continue since the beginning of this year due to some lapses at the Ministry of Agriculture.
“At the end of the year, we ought to send a letter to the governor for the revalidation of the payment but this we did not do on time. Currently, the revalidation letter has been sent to him.
“We are going to continue to do our best to ensure the programme achieves it set goals,” he said.
Also speaking, Ogboke said that the project had supported more than 4,000 farmers in the state, adding that there had been an appreciable increase in the income of the farmers.
The state project coordinator said that a total of 46.7 km roads, linking several agricultural fields, were under construction, while the road projects had attained 80-per-cent completion.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Enugu State Government is owing N243.25 million as counterpart funds for FADAMA III AF project and its is expected to remit N56.4 million every year.