President Muhammadu Buhari has welcomed the acceptance of the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to co-chair a session to raise $50 billion to fund the inter-basin water transfer from Central Africa to revive the Lake Chad.
President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, who delivered the response of the UN chief to President Buhari at the State House, Abuja yesterday, was also at the Daily Trust head office where he expatiated on the idea.
Adesina said the president charged the AfDB to lead a team to source for the fund for Inter-basin Water Transfer project, describing it as necessary in view of the size of capital required which was unavailable to the Lake Chad Basin countries.
Daily Trust reports that four of the Lake Chad Basin countries – Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon – are fighting Boko Haram insurgency. Thousands of locals who depended on it for their daily livelihood have become jobless, due to the lake’s shrinking, a situation that has aggravated the insurgency problem in the region.
“Mr President is doing something on the Lake Chad, which I think ought to be applauded. When you take a look at the Lake Chad Basin, it used to be 25,000 square kilometres. Today, it is one tenth of its size,” Dr Adesina told a team of Media Trust Management and staff, led by the Chairman, Malam Kabiru A. Yusuf and Editor-in-Chief and CEO, Mannir Dan Ali.
The AfDB President said a lot of the problems that Nigeria has today emanated from the livelihoods that have gone from the Lake Chad Basin.
“President Buhari is leading now a major effort to move water from the Congo to the Lake Chad area and the President has charged me to help to lead an effort to raise $50 billion and I salute it with all pleasure and I think the President is doing the right thing because without peace and stability, we can’t have any investment. We can’t have anything,” he said.
The development finance expert said the AfDB is concerned with the situation in the North East and has been working with the Presidential Initiative on the North East (PINE) to rebuild the region. He further said that the AfDB has committed to provide $280 million to support the North East rebuilding efforts in the area of water, sanitation hygiene and skills so that people can get their lives back together.
Earlier at the Presidential Villa, President Buhari expressed delight with the successes recorded in the four years of Dr Adesina’s tenure at the Bank.
President Buhari cited the Bank’s contribution to the growth of Nigeria’s agriculture and infrastructure, and commended AfDB’s “critical gesture in 2016 during the difficult period of economic recession through the issuance of $600 million 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 will 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.”
While noting 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, President Buhari 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.”
He then asked for AfDB’s continued support in this regard.
In his presentation, Dr Adesina thanked President Buhari for his support, without which, he said, he would not have been AfDB president.
He listed his achievements in the last four years to include lending to critical sectors of the Nigerian economy which grew to an unprecedented $4.3bn.
Dr 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 AfDB president sought for the support of the Nigerian leader for a “general capital increase” to fast track the development of the Bank, to which President Buhari gave all assurances and directed the Ministry of Finance to engage and expedite action on the issues brought to the government by the ADB.
AfDB invests $4bn in Nigeria
Meanwhile, AfDB president told State House reporters that the bank has invested $4bn in the country.
“We have 60 operations in Nigeria for a total of $4.5bn and about $2.8bn of that is in the private sector in the banking industry, financial sector, in particular about $1.7bn in the public sector.
“We have very exciting projects here, one is the transmission of power. Mr. President mentioned it to me that power continues to be a problem. We have invested over $4m in the Transmission Company of Nigeria to continue to improve the power transmission.
“We have also invested heavily in the northeast of Nigeria, we have put in almost $258m to support the rehabilitation both in terms of health, education, sanitation and water. And also skills as a way of reviving areas that have been battered. I told Mr President that that is very important,” Adesina said.
He said the AfDB mobilised $38.7bn of investment to Africa during its African Investment Forum out of which about $7.1bn came to Nigeria.
“He (Buhari) expressed appreciation in the work we are doing and his great support for the African Development Bank. We are in the period of general capital increase for the bank and with that support, we believe you will see a different Africa completely under this new general capital increase of the bank.
“One of the things that we said was that Nigeria’s contribution under the last general capital increase of the bank was $360 million but we lend to Nigeria $4.5 billion, almost 15.5 percent. Every dollar that Nigeria gives to the bank, we lend $15 in return, so it is a great investment.
“I assured Mr. President that under the new general capital increase of the bank, we are talking to our investors about this, so if we get enough money, hundreds of people will be connected to electricity,” he said.
‘Daily Trust practices credible journalism’
Dr Adesina said the visit to Daily Trust headquarters was the first of its kind to any media house since he assumed office as the President of AfDB.
The AfDB boss, who arrived Daily Trust office around 6 pm, said: “It is not any surprise when my team told me you’ve been waiting and I said if it’s Daily Trust, if will go and it’s the only one I’ve ever done for anybody because I really appreciate what you do. You always speak truth to power, which is rare.” Dr Adesina said he has watched Daily Trust transform over the years largely through credible journalism.
“I must really congratulate Daily Trust. It can be trusted because the paper has changed significantly. I have watched it over the years in terms of what you cover, how you cover it and you publish a lot of evidence-based stuff, which actually creates credibility for news,” he said. Daily Trust