Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has declared that a new bank, Development Bank of Nigeria would soon begin operations to strengthen the government’s economic diversification programme.
A statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Garba Shehu, said Buhari made the declaration while addressing the German-Nigeria Business Forum in Berlin.
Buhari said the bank, when fully operational, would support small and medium enterprises in the country, by improving their access to financing.
“Our ambitions of creating a diversified and inclusive economy in Nigeria can only be achieved by having a mix of small, medium and large businesses.
“This is why we worked with the German development agency, KFW, in designing the Development Bank of Nigeria which will support the small and medium size enterprises both financially and technically to ensure they take their rightful place in the industrialisation value chain.
“I am pleased to announce that Development Bank of Nigeria will be taking off soon and should be a game changer in our economic diversification plans,’’ he said.
The president, who described Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into Nigeria from Germany as modest, urged prospective investors at the gathering to go beyond the expressions of interest and make binding commitments for trade, investments and industry in the key priority sectors of agriculture, infrastructure, solid minerals and digital economy.
He said Nigeria which recorded a trade volume of $2.96 billion with Germany in 2015, still had a great deal of unexploited potential to diversify its exports to Germany and increase overall trade volumes.
According him, trade relations between both countries primarily take the form of oil and gas exports from Nigeria, machinery, vehicles and vehicle parts, telecommunications technology and chemical products in the other direction.
He said: “Nigeria has remained a country of potential. Now we are in a hurry to develop and realise that potential.
“Nigeria is not yet where we would like it to be, but I am confident that the Government and people of Nigeria are determined to change and be where we would like Nigeria to be: a major economy, that is subject to good governance on the basis of the rule of law and constitutional order and a responsible member of the international community.”
Buhari, who had earlier met with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Joachim Gauck, told the business gathering that with the successes recorded in the fight against terrorism and the administrations resolute commitment to the war against corruption, Nigeria was open for business and broader relationship with Germany.
On corruption, he said: “We have boldly set out to bring an end to a culture of impunity and abuse of public trust. Corruption is the reason why we went through years of an oil boom and came out with very little to show in terms of savings or investments.
“Corruption is the reason our military struggled for so long against Boko Haram. Corruption is one of the reasons that in spite of our rich human and natural resources as a country, 70 per cent of our population continues to live in poverty.
“Now we have said enough is enough. It is time to make public funds work for the public good. And that is why we are bringing culprits to book and recovering looted funds and assets.”