“We have the land. We have the people. Capital input is what we need,” said President Muhammadu Buhari as he begged the Queen of Netherlands, Maxima Zorreguieta, for funds to develop Nigeria.
Mr. Buhari, who had been borrowing, informed the Dutch queen, especially in the agricultural sector, that he was doing all he can to develop Nigeria.
”People went back to the land, and this helped us tremendously. We made fertilizers available, resuscitated dams, and it all paid off handsomely,” added the president. “Otherwise, with about 200 million people, we would have been in trouble when COVID-19 struck and affected the economy.”
He said that Nigeria could do more with investment aid, especially in agriculture, as did Oliver Twist. The President noted further that Nigeria’s farmers were open to modern approaches, in particular post-harvest waste reduction.
These points were made by Mr. Buhari at a bilateral meeting in New York, the USA with Mr. Zorreguieta, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.
A statement by the president’s media aide Femi Adesina disclosed that Mr. Buhari, during the closed-door meeting, stressed the importance of infrastructural development for the advancement of the country.
“Without infrastructure, the 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,” Mr. Buhari explained to the queen.
He said Nigeria was being hampered by resources, although it was an oil exporter nation, and that its regime would accelerate infrastructural development with more financial resources.
Mr. Buhari assured the queen, who last visited Nigeria in 2017, that she would see a lot of difference if she came again.
In the area of agriculture, the president said Nigerian borders were closed with some neighbouring countries to encourage local farmers “and eat what we grow.”
Ms. Zorreguieta lauded what she called “the huge effort” made by Nigeria to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, saying, “you spent a great part of your GDP.”
The queen disclosed she had a huge commitment to Nigeria. “You won’t be alone. We will be there along with other partners,” she told the Nigerian president.
The queen said agriculture was music to her ears, being the daughter of a former agriculture minister. She pointed out that her biggest plea would be for Nigeria to make infrastructure available so that investors and aid donors could access areas beyond the major cities.
“We need roads, railways, digital financial inclusion for farmers. The government needs to digitise all payments,” Ms Zorreguieta noted.
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