January 28, 2023

“Without foreign aid, Covid-19 would have crushed Africa” says Nigerian Governor

Gov. Simon Lalong

Jos, June 18, 2021: Despite its vast land and economic potentials, Africa’s future faced uncertainties during Covid-19 pandemic, Governor of Nigeria’s Central State of Plateau, Simon Lalong said, Thursday.

Only foreign “interventions” saved the continent, said Lalong in Jos, during a meeting with federal officials assessing States’ preparedness for Nigeria Covid-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus – Program for Results (Nigeria CARES).

The program approved in 2020 by the World Bank Group (WBG) aims to build a resilient recovery post-COVID19, as part of a new five-year Country Partnership Framework (CPF) from 2021 to 2024.

“I am sure in Africa, if not for this kind of intervention, we wouldn’t know what will happen with the outcome of Covid-19,” Governor Lalong said. “With these kinds of interventions, you can see Nigeria is moving forward,” the Governor added.

Plateau is taking advantage of the interventions to move forward, Lalong said, as the federal supervisors adjudged the State “ready” for the program.

“The N-CARES program is an initiative of the Federal and state governments with credit support from the world bank to provide economic stimulus to the states and we cannot afford to fail,” said the assessment team leader, Mrs. Jummai Idako.

“Our visit to this state is advisory – to encourage State Governments to provide conducive environment to enable our staff to work hard and meet the aspirations of the poor and vulnerable people among us within the two years of the project,” Idako said.

N-CARES is financed through an International Development Association (IDA) credit, to the tone of $750 million to “help increase access to social transfers and basic services, as well as provide grants to poor and vulnerable households. It will also strengthen food supply chains for poor households while facilitating recovery and enhancing capabilities of MSMEs,” said a WBG press release in December 2020.

Plateau State has been allocated $20million (N7.610billion) under the program. Officials trained over 100 desk officers for its implementation last month. A well furnished secretariat has also been allocated to the project.

When operational, the fund will provide 40% loan relief (emergency operation) for 24months to 40,000 weak and vulnerable families, businesses and farmers, through local implementing platforms – Fadama III, Plateau State Microfinance Development Agency (PLASMIDA) and Community Service Development Agency.

Beneficiaries must however prove that they took loans before Covid-19 and were unable to repay during the pandemic, said Mr. Haggai Gutap, the Administrative Head of Plateau State CARES Coordinating Unit. Applications for the fund will soon be announced, Gutap said.