President Muhammadu Buhari has tasked the African Export–Import Bank (AFREXIM), to align its lending schemes with the agricultural priorities of the present administration.
He said this when he had audience with the President of the Bank and Chairman of its Board of the Directors, Dr. Okey Oramah, at the State House.
While acknowledging that Nigeria was the biggest beneficiary of AFREXIM’s loans and facilities, Buhari however observed that in spite of the impressive array of lending to institutions and industries in Nigeria, Agriculture didn’t feature very well and needed to be taken on board.
“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, also directed the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, to liaise with the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory Administration for the issuance without delay, of land for the regional headquarters building of the bank, and another 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 cancer, haematology and cardiology which will in turn create hundreds of jobs in the country.
President Buhari, also asked the bank to direct more of its resources to infrastructure funding in Nigeria.
The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun also informed the meeting that there were on-going efforts to raise Nigeria’s equity in the bank, which had dropped to sixth from the first position hitherto.
In his remarks, 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 US $4 billion.
The bank is marking its 25th anniversary this year, the Senior Special Assistant to President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu said in statement.