Buhari: Why We Assisted Zimbabwe after Cyclone Devastation

Muhammadu Buhari
  •   Says he’s focused on job creation, peace, prosperity

Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday in Abuja disclosed that the devastation, which accompanied Cyclone Idai, that ravaged Zimbabwe earlier this year, was so enormous that Nigeria could not afford to look the other way, but compelled to offer the country a helping hand.

This is coming as the president thursday in Abuja said his administration remained focused on its commitment to create jobs for the youthful population of Nigeria and simultaneously promote peace and prosperity.

The president made this disclosure at the State House, while receiving in farewell audience the Ambassador of Zimbabwe to Nigeria, Lovemore Mazemo.

A statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said Cyclone Idai ravaged Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Malawi, and was believed to be the costliest natural disaster in South-West Indian Ocean basin, destroying goods and property estimated at $2 billion.

Adesina said Buhari also recalled the role that Nigeria played in the struggle for the independence of Zimbabwe from apartheid minority rule, saying “we remain proud of what Nigeria did in those days.”

He also said the ambassador, who spent four-and-a-half years in Nigeria, stated that he found a home in Nigeria, “and a family among your wonderful people.”

Speaking while receiving the Director General of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Guy Ryder, in the State House, Buhari said his administration had in the last four years placed a priority on agriculture, housing and infrastructure development, insisting that the motivation is to create jobs and promote peace and prosperity.

“In the last four years, this government prioritised Agriculture, Housing and Infrastructure development. Our focus in these areas was to create jobs today and ensure peace and equitable prosperity for future generations,” he added.

Adesina, in a separate statement, said the president reasoned that it was outrightly impossible for Nigeria to continue to import food, pointing out that a country of about 200 million population should be able to feed itself.

“On agriculture, it was simple; a country with a population of close to 200 million has to be able to feed itself. We cannot rely on importing food,” he said.

The statement added that the president also told Ryder that his government had “attacked head-on the big deficit in power, roads, bridges, rails and housing … in order to ensure adequate housing is available today and for many years to come.”

Furthermore, he said the president attributed some of the achievements of his administration so far to deliberate consultations with stakeholders before taking critical decisions affecting the labour force.

According to him, the government had made strategic policy decisions through partnering stakeholders, including labour unions, citing African Continental Free Trade Agreement review and the national minimum wage negotiations as examples.

“Our achievements to date were as a result of strategic fiscal and monetary policy decisions. In some instances, we partnered with stakeholders such as the labour unions.

“A good example was during the African Continental Free Trade Agreement review and the National Minimum Wage negotiations. This consultative approach aligns with the vision of the ILO to keep communications open, create jobs, ensure social justice and eliminate worker exploitation,” the president also said as he congratulated ILO on its 100th year anniversary.

According to Adesina, Ryder, in his earlier remarks, told the president that he was in Nigeria to attend the Global Youth Employment Forum, which drew participants from over 60 countries with the objective of addressing practically the most pressing challenge of finding decent jobs for young people. He also said the ILO boss expressed the commitment of the organisation to existing partnership and cooperation with Nigeria.

“We have worked with the Labour Ministry to prepare employment policies about youth employment, migration safety and health productivity. The focus is the practical implementation of these plans,” he quoted Ryder as saying.