Tinubu orders women affairs ministry to restructure world bank loans, other grants

President Bola Tinubu has directed immediate restructuring of World Bank loans and other grants from donor agencies for proper accountability, effective use and results.

Minister of Women Affairs, Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye,  disclosed this at a meeting with the officials of the Federal Ministry of Health, led by the Minister, Muhammad Pate, in Abuja, yesterday.

She said the visit to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare was to update her counterpart-minister on the development and efforts being made to improve on issues of women empowerment, child labor, adoption, and other responsibilities of the ministry.

She, however, said the decision of the president was as a result of observations that the previous loans that came to the Ministry of Women Affairs from the World Bank and other donor partners were mismanaged resulting in defeat of the original intent of the donation.

She said: “I had to complain to the president on the level of mismanagement of huge World Bank resources that were supposed to be used to better the lives of women and children in Nigeria, empowering them with skills, competence and opportunities, that would improve their lives and standard of living.

“For instance, in the Ministry of Women Affairs, there was a loan called Nigeria for Women Project loan. The last one was $100 million. But sadly, the fund was wasted on frivolities by people that handled it. Available records indicated the funds were spent on frivolities like advocacies, rents, consultancy services, travels, among others.

“Aside this particular one, there are other grants that came to the Ministry of Women Affairs that even if it was evenly distributed to Nigerians, each person will get N20 million. Some of these things are the reasons we are not forging ahead as a nation.

“This year, over $500 million was approved by World Bank for the same Nigeria for Women Project loan. However, over $950 million have been approved for the ministry from different donor partners inclusive of the $500 million world bank loan.

“I have met with the president and asked for his support to restructure the loans system, and he has granted that but asked that I work with relevant ministries and other stakeholders involved in the welfare of Nigeria.

“We would start by cutting off the frivolities like consultancy services, advocacies and other unnecessary spendings from the loan money. We must know these monies are loans, and they are expected to be paid back. But unfortunately, they are mismanaged. There should be a more reliable way that the application of these loans can be checkmated.”

She, however, confirmed the process of restructuring the foreign loan system has commenced, with the endorsement of the president and involvement of relevant agencies of the government beginning from the Federal Ministries of Health and Social Welfare, Finance, and others.

Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Pate, in his remarks, appreciated the commitment of the minister of Women Affairs, to the cause of childcare and women empowerment.

He said the things she highlighted are, undoubtedly, key issues militating against socio-economic development of Nigeria, and assured her his ministry will be readily available to support the actions needed to improve the welfare of women and children.

He said: “Empowering women is vital to the health and social development of children, families, communities and the country. As part of our Health Sector Renewal Investment Initiative, we are adopting an inter-ministerial and multi-disciplinary approach to dismantle gender barriers, promote social welfare and improve access to efficient, equitable and improved quality outcomes across public and private healthcare systems.”



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