President Muhammadu Buhari has welcomed the acceptance of the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres to co-chair a Special Session to raise $50 billion to fund the inter-basin water transfer from Central Africa to revive the Lake Chad.
Garba Shehu, the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, in a statement, said the president stated this when he received the reply of the Secretary-General to his earlier letter on the matter.
Guterres’ response was presented to President Buhari through the President of the African Development Bank (ADB), Dr Akinwumi Adesina, at the State House, Abuja on Tuesday.
President Buhari said such a Special Forum was necessary in view of the size of capital required for the project which was unavailable to the Lake Chad Basin countries.
Addressing issues directly related to the ADB, the President expressed delight with successes recorded in the four years of Dr Adesina’s tenure at the Bank.
President Buhari specifically cited the Bank’s contribution to the growth of Nigeria’s agriculture and infrastructure.
He commended what he called “its critical gesture in 2016 during the difficult period of economic recession through the issuance of 600 million dollars budget support facility.”
The President used the occasion to highlight the successes achieved by the administration through the implementation of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, ERGP.
He stressed that his focus would continue to be on diversifying the economy and making it more inclusive as well as the creation of jobs in critical sectors like the Information Communication Technology (ICT) and manufacturing so that “young people will earn a decent living.”
President Buhari noted that ”a lot is being achieved in providing guaranteed off-takers for farmers, and in the provision of infrastructure that include airports, rail, roads and water ways.
He, however, admitted that “we still have significant work ahead in the provision of power, small scale cottage industries and promotion of the agro-industrial zones coming up in the country.”
The president then asked for ADB’s continued support in this regard.
In his presentation, Adesina thanked President Buhari for his support, without which, he said, he would not have been ADB president.
He listed his record of achievements in the last four years among which lending to critical sectors of the Nigerian economy grew to an unprecedented 4.3 billion Dollars.
Adesina told President Buhari that the fortunes of the Bank had significantly improved, earning global ratings in accountability and transparency, improved incomes and for making impact on the lives of millions of its target population.
The ADB president sought for the support of the Nigerian leader for a “general capital increase” to fast track the development of the Bank.
The statement quoted President Buhari as giving all assurances to the ADB’s requests and directed the Ministry of Finance to engage and expedite action on the issues brought to the government by the ADB.