President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday requested the African Export – Import Bank (AFREXIM) to align its lending schemes with the agricultural priorities of the Federal Government.
The President made the request when he received the President of the Bank and Chairman of its Board of the Directors at the State House, Abuja.
President Buhari acknowledged the fact that Nigeria was the biggest beneficiary of AFREXIM’s loans and facilities.
He, however, observed that in spite of the impressive array of lending to institutions and industries in Nigeria, agriculture did not feature very well and needed to be taken on board.
He said: “Many do not appreciate how much we are doing in agriculture. The Minister of Agriculture and the Central Bank are doing so much.
“We have almost achieved complete food security coupled with the massive employment of able-bodied Nigerians, both the educated and the not-so-educated.
“You must take interest in our agriculture.”
President Buhari, at the meeting, also directed the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, to take up the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory Administration for the issuance without delay, of land for the regional headquarters building of the bank.
He added that another land should be allocated for a proposed Centre for Medical Excellence in tertiary healthcare in the Federal Capital.
“The proposed Centre, to be established in collaboration with the Kings Hospital in London, will provide advanced treatment in Nigeria for cancers, haematology and cardiology and, pursuant to that, the creation of hundreds of jobs here in the country,’’ he said.
The President also asked the bank to direct more of its resources to infrastructure funding in Nigeria.
The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, also informed the meeting that there were ongoing efforts to raise Nigeria’s equity in the bank, which had dropped to sixth from the first position hitherto.
The President of the Bank, Dr Okey Oramah, a Nigerian, reported that the dilution of Nigerian shareholding needed to be addressed, to justify the pre-eminent position of the country as leading beneficiary.
He disclosed that the bank exposure in Nigeria currently stood at about four billion dollars.
The bank, which is marking its 25th anniversary this year, is bringing the events to Nigeria in recognition of the pioneering role played by the country in the bank’s formation.
President Buhari was supported at the meeting by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; the Chief of Staff to the President, Malam Abba Kyari, the Ministers of Finance and Industry, Trade and Investment and the Governor of the Central Bank.