Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel has called on the World Bank to explore the enormous opportunities and potentials in the State and partner with the state to surmount its many challenges.
The Governor made the request during a dinner that was held for Mr. Rachid Benmessaoud, World Bank Country Director and officials who are in Uyo for a three day retreat.
Mr Udom Emmanuel told the team that Akwa Ibom at thirty is ripe for partnership by World Bank to effectively drive its vision and mission for the sub-Saharan Africa.
He hinted that the State has the capacity, and is willing to translate the potentials into a formidable platform to drive the dividend of democracy to the doorsteps of the people through the expected partnership with the World Bank.
“We believe we have the structures, we have the systems, and we have the shared values to help us drive this vision. We are willing and we are ready. I want to say here that we offer Akwa Ibom to partner with you,” the Governor declared.
According to him, most of the requirements by World Bank such as accountability and transparency have been met by the State.
He noted that any State that is ready for international agency rating should be able to develop good corporate governance at the public sector level.
He said, “You asked me about the sector we are most interested in, I want to tell you that we are challenged in all the sectors. I even developed a model and I call it housekeeping sectors, which are mainly social facilities.”
The Governor however mentioned the areas of possible intervention to include water, healthcare, agriculture and other sectors, and reeled out his achievements and blueprints to the visitors.
Country Director, World Bank, Rachid Benmessaoud said Akwa Ibom was very conducive for investments.
He said the visit will afford World Bank the opportunity to work with the State Government and help them to effectively utilize the funding they already have.
According to him, the visit is “really an opportunity for us again to strengthen our relationship with the State. It is important so that you can show results to your citizens.”
Mr Benmessaoud said the Federal Government has requested their support in sectors such as power, health, education, environment, social protection ranging from infrastructure to building systems for an efficient government.
He assured the Governor that World Bank will work with the State Government to make sure “you can use us to leverage more than our financing capacity; that means, attracting the private sector both in terms of investment and commercial financing.”
On her part, the In-country Manager, International Finance Corporation(IFC), Emeh Essien harped on the role of the private sector in the development of the society, and commended the Governor for spearheading a private sector-driven economy for Akwa Ibom State.
“From my perspective, when you have people in Government who understands the role of private sector, then we only have positive things to look up to,” the in-country manager stated.
She said private sector engagement is germane to the growth and development of the society. IFC is the private sector arm of the World Bank group.
Ndifreke P. Akpan