World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, has disclosed that the World Bank was set to inject the sum of $700 million for adolescent girls’ education in 19 states of the country.
He made the disclosure on Monday, during a parliamentary summit on fast-tracking Nigeria’s demographic transition, organised by the Office of the Speaker, House of Representatives and the National Population Commission, supported by the World Bank in Abuja.
According to him, the World Bank was committed to supporting Nigeria in empowering adolescent girls and youths, adding that it would help the nation in achieving its demographic transition.
He said, “The key in some ways to helping realise Nigeria’s demographic dividend is to make sure that the girl-child stays in school. We have already provided $500 million in financing and we are about to put in another $700 million in consensual financing for adolescent girls. Now it’s going up to 19 states from 7 states across Nigeria.
“It’s all about keeping adolescent girls in school. It’s about primary health care, ensuring that maternal, child and reproductive health services are provided. All of these will require support from the government.”
Chaudhuri further disclosed that Nigeria ranked lowest in the world in public spending and revenues, explaining that states would need more in offering basic services for their indigenes.
He said, “Nigeria has the lowest level of public spending in the world. 11, 12 per cent of GDP, that’s not enough to sustain the basic services that every state needs to provide for its people. Basic law and order, primary health care, investing in its people and providing basic infrastructure.
“Part of the reason that’s not there, is because Nigeria has the lowest level of revenues. A big part of that is there isn’t trust among citizens, and if citizens pay taxes the states will not use it properly.
“The National Assembly can play such an important role to ensure accountability. To ensure that every fund or resource that gets past them to the states is used directly to translate into services for ordinary Nigerians.
“Especially in these basic areas, keeping girls in school. 5,000 communities across Nigeria, there’s no junior secondary school within walking distance. Would you send your teenage girl to a school far away where they are at risk of getting kidnapped? So how is Nigeria going to pay for those additional 5,000 schools so that adolescent girls stay in school.”
On his part, the Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, noted that fast-tracking Nigeria’s demographic transition in providing jobs for youths, primary health care services and keeping adolescent girls in school, was a matter of urgency.
In his welcome remarks, Chairman, National Population Commission, Nasir Isa-Kwarra, said harnessing the demographic dividend in Nigeria would not be automatic but would require each nation to meet certain conditions that start with achieving “a rapid and speedy fertility decline, holistically to permit sufficient demographic transition for economic transformation to occur.”
He said, “Achieving this feat will facilitate the emergence of a population age-structure that host fewer dependents’ (for Nigeria of the young), but with a large cohort of productive/working age population that will breed prosperity.
“This achievement can happen, only if Nigeria makes the right choices now in adopting targeted sound social policies and interventions in key sectors (education, health, women empowerment, job creation/productive and decent employment), guided by good governance that is built on strong and responsive institutional structure.”