From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, New York
President Muhammadu Buhari has said Nigeria was aware of its limitations hence the need to prioritise the provision of infrastructure.
He stated this Wednesday during a bilateral meeting at the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly with Maxima Zorreguieta, Queen of The Netherlands.
A statement by Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina quoted the President as saying: “Without infrastructure, development would be limited, so we put emphasis on building roads, rail, and power. We have a comprehensive plan, and we are doing our best.”
He said the country was hampered by resources, despite being an oil exporting country, and that with more financial wherewithal, infrastructure projects would be sped up. President Buhari assured the Queen, who visited Nigeria in 2017, that if she came again, she would see a lot of differences.
He said in the area of agriculture, Nigerian borders were closed with some neighbouring countries to encourage local farmers and Nigerians “eat what we grow.”
“People went back to the land, and this helped us tremendously. We made fertilisers available, resuscitated dams, and it all paid off handsomely. Otherwise, with about 200 million people, we would have been in trouble when COVID-19 struck, and affected the economy.”
He said like Oliver Twist, Nigeria could do with more help in the area of investment, particularly in agriculture.
“We have the land, we have the people, capital input is what we need,” President Buhari stated, adding that Nigerian farmers were quite receptive to modern ways of doing things, especially in respect of cutting post-harvest waste.
Queen Zorreguieta lauded what she called “the huge effort” made by Nigeria to combat the Coronavirus pandemic, saying; “you spent a great part of your GDP.” She said she had a huge commitment to Nigeria, “and will want to accompany her to do more. You won’t be alone. We will be there along with other partners.”
The Queen said agriculture was music to her ears, being the daughter of a former Minister of Agriculture, and her biggest plea would be for Nigeria to make infrastructure available, so that investors and aid donors can access areas beyond the major cities.
“We need roads, railways, digital financial inclusion for farmers. Government needs to digitise all payments,” she said.
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