World Bank Commits $200m To Ekiti Development

Ekiti State Governor, Mr Biodun Oyebanji has sought for an increased collaboration and partnership with both local and international development agencies to ensure all round development of the state's economy.

Governor Oyebanji, who made the request on Tuesday during a strategic meeting with Heads of Development Agencies at the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, said with the right partnership and collaboration, the state's development goals could be significantly accelerated through mutual cooperation and resources sharing.

Governor Oyebanji spoke just as the World Bank said it had committed over $200 million to Ekiti State, out of which $60 million has been disbursed so far in some critical aspects of the state's development.

The World Bank Country Director, Dr Ndiame Diop who disclosed this during the Governor's engagement, said the funds are directed at eight different projects. He called for more effective collaboration from the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to ensure success of the projects.

Governor Oyebanji had set the tone for the day's discussion in his opening address, where he emphasized the fact that Ekiti State was not looking for help. Rather , he said what the state government wants is partnership and collaboration that would accelerate growth and development.

Oyebanji said that his administration has positioned itself as reform-minded, transparent and accountable to build trust with stakeholders and ensure that development initiatives are effectively implemented. He said his administration is determined to harness and explore collaborations and gather necessary support and resources to drive development in the critical areas of the state economy which include infrastructure, agriculture, healthcare and education, among others.

Highlighting numerous reforms by his administration to create a conducive atmosphere for investment, the Governor emphasized the Ekiti's top position in transparency index and its recognition as the safest state in the country has made it an ideal environment for business operations.

He said his administration is intentional in its efforts towards achieving the state's 30 years development plan through partnership and collaboration with national and international development partners.

While calling the development partners to consider Ekiti State as their next investment destination and take advantage of the numerous opportunities and advantages in the state, Governor Oyebanji said the state is open for business and eager to partner with investors who shared the state's vision of sustainabile growth and development.

He said “We are government that is reform minded, transparent, we are accountable and am leading a team that is competent and committed to the mandate of this administration.

“Everything we are doing in Ekiti is already planned for. We know the track we are following, we know the step we have taken and we are trying our best within the available resources to as a state, but we know that we have the capacity and ability to do more and that is why we have invited you here today to say, please handhold us in areas where your institutions can partner and collaborate with us. Let us work together so that we can deliver good governance to the people of Ekiti State.

“We tick all boxes in transparency, we have regulatory instrument in the state that ensures that we deliver on projects, and for those of you that have one programs or the other in Ekiti, you will know that we adhere strictly to protocols for implementation, and that speaks to our commitment to doing things the right way.” [/b]The Governor added.

The Governor highlighted efforts by his administration to improve Ease of Doing Business
In the state to include the establishment of small claims court, streamlining of business permit, enforcement of contracts, aligning tax policy to remove double taxation, as well as enhanced security among others.

“On Ease of Doing Business, we have gone so far. I head and chair the committee on Ease of Doing Business. We have streamlined business permit, enforcement of contracts . We are at a point of having a one- stop shop physically and virtually that addresses the concerns of investors in the state. “

He also revealed that access to the state is being improved with investment in road infrastructure. He also revealed that the Ado Ekiti airport would be ready for commercial operation before the end of the year, adding that the airport is undergoing certification process by relevant aviation authorities.

He said officials of the NCAA and FAAN are currently in the state for the certification for commercial operation of the airport, adding that commercial flights would become operative at the airport before the end of the year.

The airport project, he said was conceived to aide economic development and growth in the state through access to local and international markets.

Earlier in his goodwill message, the World Bank Country Director, Ndiame Diop, who commended the Governor for his determination to the state's development and for engaging with development partners to discuss on ways to improve and leverage partnerships towards addressing development challenges in the state, said world bank has committed over 200 million dolars in Ekiti across key sectors such as Education, health, social protection,water and sanitation and women's economic empowerment with about 60 million dollars disbursed so far.

While commending the state's good track records of implementation of the bank's projects, the Director said more projects opportunities would soon come to the state in critical sectors such as irrigation, hydro power, and agriculture, health and education, among others.

Also, the heads and representatives of several other international development agencies including British High Commission, USADF, USAID, Belgium Embassy, Japan Embassy and UNiDOC among others pelleted to strengthen commitment to the state, while lauding the Governor's regular engagement.

In his welcome address, the State Commissioner for Budget, Economic Planning and Performance Management , Mr Niyi Adebayo, in his presentation identified the state's areas of competitive advantage as well as areas where it requires collaboration.

The Director General, Office of Development Partnerships, Mr Biodun Oyeleye did an overview of the Biodun Oyebanji Administration's six- pillar development agenda, drawing the attention of ten development agencies to each of ten agenda.

Also at the event were members of the State Executive Council, Ambassadors, High Commissioners, Country Directors and representatives of International Organizations and Countries, among others.

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