President Muhammadu Buhari has requested the African Export-Import Bank (AFREXIM) to bump up its agriculture financing provisions in alignment with the diversification priorities of the administration, according to a monitored report of a meeting he had with officials of the bank.
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.
He acknowledged that Nigeria was the biggest beneficiary of AFREXIM’s loans and facilities but wondered why agriculture lagged behind, in spite of the impressive array of lending to institutions and industries in Nigeria.
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.
Kemi Adeosun, the minister of finance informed the meeting that efforts were underway to raise Nigeria’s equity in the bank, which had dropped to sixth from the first position hitherto.
Okey Oramah, the president of the bank reported that the dilution of Nigerian shareholding needed to be addressed, to justify the pre-eminent position of the country as leading beneficiary.
He said the bank exposure in Nigeria currently stood at about $4 billion.
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.