The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) on Thursday in Abuja said it was going to assist the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) with a $2 million grant.Mr Mark Suzman, President, Global and Advocacy at the Gates Foundation, said at a joint press briefing with NGF that the grant was to boost states’ Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).He said the fund, which was to also help in boosting primary healthcare in Nigeria, would be spread over a period of three years, between 2017 and 2019.
Suzman said the grants would primarily focus on domestic revenue challenges with the aim of strengthening public financing for social programmes which benefit the poor.“The Gates Foundation recognises how critical state leadership is to development in Nigeria.“We are pleased to be supporting the critical work of the NGF as it facilitates better information exchange, collaboration on policy, and the work of executive governors in determining how best to ensure Federal and state policies work for Nigeria’s poorest,” he said.
Suzman, who is also the Chief Strategy Officer at the Gates Foundation, said the fund was to assist NGF to tackle two issues which were inhibiting the country.He identified the issues as insufficient IGR to support health and development, as well as investment, policies and political will for the strongest primary healthcare system.The Gates Foundation official noted that two-thirds of social spending in Nigeria occur at the sub-national level.“Nigeria is once again locked in a serious fight against polio, and it will not be successful without the support of the country’s executive governors.
“Some of the governors are doing a stellar job of regularly reviewing progress on polio and routine immunisation, which are themselves the backbone of a primary healthcare system which brings benefit to all Nigerians.“But more still needs to be done to keep polio and immunisation at the top of the country’s health agenda,” he added.Suzman expressed joy at the success of the previous partnership of the Foundation with NGF, especially on polio eradication.NGF’s Chairman, Gov. Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State, commended BMGF for the grant, and expressed optimism that it would help to boost states’ capacity in IGR and healthcare delivery.
Yari, who was represented by the Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, assured that the fund would be prudently used for the purpose it was meant for.“On our part as governors, we are committed to doing our utmost best in any endeavour related to NGF, and this will not be an exception,” he said.Director-General of NGF Secretariat, Mr. Asishana Okauru, said NGF would continue to push for better performance among governors to meet acknowledged global best practices and enhance service delivery in all sectors.
He said that the secretariat looks forward to more and greater partnership with the Gates Foundation for the benefit of the country.(NAN)