Agriculture key to poverty reduction in Nigeria, Buhari insists
•S’Arabia to invest in oil, gas sector, pledges better ties
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday in Riyadh said new investments and reforms in the agriculture sector hold the key to his administration’s quest to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years.
Speaking at a panel discussion on the second day of the Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference in the Saudi city, Buhari reiterated his resolve to walk the talk.He was joined by his Nigerien and Kenyan counterparts, Mahamadou Issoufou and Uhuru Kenyatta, in a plenary session to discuss ‘’What’s next for Africa? How will investment and trade transform the continent into the next great economic success story?’’
On poverty reduction in Nigeria, the president pointed to the “vigorous implementation of key reforms” of his administration in the farming and agriculture sector including soft loans to farmers, availability and affordability of farming inputs and restrictions on food imports grown locally, as some measures that have encouraged agriculture revolution in the country.
He said: ‘’We have vast arable land in Nigeria. We have encouraged the young men and able-bodied persons, especially the uneducated ones, to go back to the land.‘’We have encouraged them by giving soft loans to farmers through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and by making fertilisers available and selling at half the price of the product.
‘’We have also ensured a stop on the importation of food because we are capable of achieving food security ourselves.’’ On if Russia was Africa’s best friend, Buhari stated the European nation was “visibly helping” Nigeria in all the priority areas of his government – security, economy and the fight against corruption – as a committed development partner.He described corruption as an ‘’embarrassing topic’’ for developing countries, highlighting measures by the Federal Government to eliminate the menace through lawful enforcement and preventive measures.
However, King Salman of Saudi Arabia has pledged of his country’s willingness to invest in Nigeria’s oil and gas sector as well as strengthen the strategic partnership between the Saudi Energy Company, Aramco, and the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). He when he held talks with President Buhari on the sidelines of the ongoing summit in Riyadh, during which the leaders committed to better ties for the development of both countries.
A statement by Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said the two leaders agreed to advance cooperation in the areas of oil and gas, given the similarities of both nations as big producers of the commodity.
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