World Bank mandates hiring security consultant for $1.2 billion loan project in Nigeria 


The World Bank has mandated the hiring of a security consultant to address pervasive insecurity issues affecting its $1.2 billion loan project in Nigeria.


The Adolescent Girls Initiative for Learning and Empowerment (AGILE) project aims to improve secondary education opportunities among girls in targeted areas but faces significant challenges due to security concerns.


Initially approved in July 2020 with a loan amount of $500 million, the project received an additional financing approval of $700 million in September 2023, bringing the total project funding to $1.2 billion, according to the implementation status and results report for the project from the World Bank.


However, only 49% of the initial financing has been disbursed and nothing has been disbursed from the additional financing as the project faces delays in implementation.


About the AGILE Project

The AGILE project has key components, such as creating safe and accessible learning spaces ($757.30 million), fostering an enabling environment for girls ($373.50 million), project management and system strengthening ($59.20 million), and unallocated funds ($10 million).


Despite a delayed start, the AGILE project has shown notable achievements across various fronts. The construction milestones include the completion of 20 schools and the ongoing construction of 258 schools, which will add 2,112 classrooms across four states.


Financial incentives have been a significant component of the project, with 464,068 beneficiaries receiving support to continue their education.


This financial aid has facilitated transitions from primary to junior secondary school (JSS), retention in JSS, and further progression to senior secondary school (SSS).


Additionally, the project has made significant strides in life skills programs, reaching 163,474 beneficiaries.


These programs have been particularly successful in states like Kano, Kaduna, and Katsina, where new cohorts have enrolled, and life skills activities are being extended to additional schools.


The insecurity problem

Among other challenges, insecurity remains a critical issue, particularly in states with pervasive insecurity, hindering the implementation and supervision of project activities.


The insecurity has made it difficult to implement and monitor project activities effectively, putting the project’s objectives at risk.


The report from the World Bank read: “The slow implementation of critical project activities remains an obstacle for some states. The inefficient performance of lagging states could undermine project progress. These states have shown low capacity in implementing critical activities such as fiduciary, monitoring and evaluation, reporting, and project management. 2) Security challenges remain pervasive across some states, making it difficult to implement and supervise the implementation of project activities in affected areas. 3) Bureaucratic processes and changes in SPIU staff continue to cause delays in the implementation of project activities in some of the project states.”


The World Bank report highlighted the need for enhanced security measures and immediate actions to ensure the safety and continuation of the project.


To address these challenges, the World Bank has instructed all State Project Implementation Units (SPIUs) to recruit a security consultant and appoint a government security focal person in each state. This measure aims to enhance security protocols and provide a safer environment for implementing project activities.


The report added: “The World Bank team will continue to liaise with State Governors and Education Commissioners to minimize turnover at the SPIU level and ensure that qualified staff are recruited to support Project activities. States will need to introduce more enhanced security measures for schools. All SPIUs are now required to recruit a security consultant and appoint a security government focal person in the states.


“The NPCU [National Project Coordinating Unit] will also need to increase targeted support to participating states through technical assistance, training and refresher courses, and standardized reporting frameworks. The World Bank is also considering Hands-On Expanded Implementation Support (HEIS) for states in view of low capacity and high volume of future procurements.”


What you should know

As schools in the country struggle with persistent attacks by extremists, bandits, and kidnappers, the federal government launched the National Plan on Financing Safe Schools 2023-2026, with a total investment size of N144.8 billion in December 2022.

Through the former Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, the government asked for financial support from state governments, agencies, the private sector, and development partners in implementing the National Plan on Financing Safe Schools 2023-2026.


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