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Kennedy-Ohanenye: Previous Administration ‘Lavished’ $100m World Bank Loan for Women Empowerment on Meetings, Consultancy

Kennedy-Ohanenye has accused the previous administration of spending a $100m World Bank loan for women empowerment on advocacy.

Uju Kennedy-Ohanenye, Minister of Women Affairs has accused the previous administration of misappropriation of funds, referring to a $100m World Bank loan for women empowerment, which she said was “lavished” on meetings, advocacy and consultancy.

In an interview with ARISE NEWS on Monday, Kennedy-Ohanenye commended President Bola Tinubu for his proactive involvement in the project, particularly his scrutiny of the $100 million expenditure.

She clarified that the funds are a loan, not a grant, and stressed the importance of proper management to ensure repayment.

“About Nigeria for women project, let me first tell Nigerian women to clap for President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who came in after the first $100m had been expended. That was when he came in and when he came in, he looked at it with me and we were not satisfied with how the $100 million was used.

“Let me make it clear. This is not a grant, it is a loan and when some monies are loans, they must have to be managed well so that the loans can be paid back. If you don’t manage it well, how do we pay back the loan? And when money is a loan, we expect whoever you are giving loan to be allowed to utilised that loan properly in a way that it can yield back the money to be paid, so that Nigeria will not continue owing.

“The first $100 million, when I came in, I was not satisfied. It didn’t augur well with the vision of the new president’s renewed hope agenda. It was mainly used for advocacy, meetings, consultancies and that was it. They shared it among the states.

“But remember the project is called Nigeria for women project and to me, the way I understand it, it was supposed to be used for projects. Fortunately, President Tinubu quickly made me raise a new structure on how that money will be utilised. So, there won’t be more issues of advocacy, meetings and consultancies, which to me is a way of lavishing the money.”

Regarding the distribution of the $500 million, Kennedy-Ohanenye assured that the allocation would be fair and equal across all states.

When asked to identify the six states across the geo-political zones where the implementation and roll-out of the project will be phased, she said “I will mention but few because I don’t know all of them.”

She said “For the $500m, if we don’t do this state will get more than this state. Anything we are doing in the federal ministry of women affairs; we divide it by 37 and that is how it is shared.

“The six states are not the issue to me. The issue to me is all the states. That is what I am focusing on. I can’t go and focus on the six states when the money coming can go round to all the states including FCT. As I speak to you, I have moved on to start the Nigeria for women project without the money being ready and we have given to 15 states already, if you add FCT that we gave the Keke Napep, it makes it 16 states. So, we have gone past 6 states.”

Kennedy-Ohanenye highlighted the critical support from royal fathers, which has been instrumental in overcoming challenges and facilitating dialogue, especially in northern regions.

“I have partnered with the royal fathers and I am getting a lot of support from them, even if you have checked during the time of Niger State, the royal fathers gave me their support. They gave rooms for dialogues and we were able to solve the problems and the right things were done. So, with that partnering, it would be easier for me to penetrate and get the problems solved. When it comes to norms, if you come to the north, to me, from the experience I got from Niger State, I think a lot of people do not really understand those northerners. With the kind of support I got from them in the issue of early marriages, I don’t think I will have issues going in there to empower those people.”

The World Bank on June 27, 2023 approved a fresh $500 million loan for Nigeria to help improve the livelihood of women in Nigeria, noting that the scale-up financing will further support the government of Nigeria to invest in improving the livelihoods of women in Nigeria.

Chioma Kalu

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