By Mercy Obojeghren
Asaba, Oct. 5, 2020 The Delta government will replicate the 58.8 million dollars World Bank, European Union and state-sponsored State Employment and Expenditure For Results (SEEFOR) programme in the Nigeria COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (CARES) programme.
The state Commissioner for Economic Planning, Mr Barry Gbe, said at the closure of the project on Monday in Asaba that the replication had become imperative in view of the fact that the project had impacted on the lives of several people in the state.
He said that the project came on stream in the state in 2013.
Gbe added that the newly-created programmme, CARES, which would maintain similar nomenclature and structures as the SEEFOR project, would be formally rolled out in the first quarter of 2021.
According to the commissioner, there will be no direct extension of the SEEFOR project, for now, as the foreign donor agencies had remained resolute over its closure, having earlier extended it twice.
He explained that several presentations and appeals made to the World Bank by both the federal and state governments for the extension of the SEEFOR project in the state and country had constantly met with brick wall.
“You might have been aware that as at Sept. 30, the pilot phase of the SEEFOR project officially came to a close after seven years of active interventions,” he said.
The commissioner, who lauded the World Bank and EU for their partnership with government in driving development in the state, maintained that the SEEFOR programme was in consonance with the state government’s agenda, anchored on job creation through empowerment of the teeming jobless youth.
The commissioner said that with the successes recorded from the SEEFOR interventions in the state, he could confidently say that the project had been an all-round success.
“It was in view of these successes that the governor had requested the World Bank for a second phase of the project.
“In response, the bank informed us of its intentions to introduce some new portfolios that would have similar nomenclature and structures as the SEEFOR project,” he said.
Gbe, however, advised ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) in the state to always consider and adopt the SEEFOR approach in carrying out their activities with similarities to the ones implemented through the SEEFOR interventions.
In his remarks, the state Coordinator of SEEFOR, Frank Apokwu, recalled that the project was a World Bank and EU intervention, in partnership with some states in the Niger Delta zone, introduced through the Federal Government.
The coordinator, who commended the state for surpassing the laid down target in all the components of the intervention programme, added that the successes had made beneficiaries in all the communities to clamour for its sustainability.
He said that the programme was implemented as a pilot phase in four states: Bayelsa, Delta, Edo and Rivers.
”The project effectively kick-started the implementation of its various activities in Delta in July 2013 and was expected to run for five years.
”However, there was an extension of the project for one year to 2019, following the release of the EU grant component of the project, while the World Bank approved another extension to Sept. 30.
”The total fund allocation to Delta SEEFOR project was 58.8 million dollars. This amount was complemented with an annual state government counterpart cash contribution,” Apokwu said.