Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The World’s second richest man, Bill Gates, Thursday in New York, described Nigeria as the greatest commitment of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Gates made this comment while meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari along with Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, at the sidelines of the 74th United Nations General Assembly in New York.
A statement by the president’s spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, said Gates told Buhari that it is only in India that the Foundation makes greater investment than Nigeria.
The statement also said Gates observed that investment in health and education in Nigeria had improved more than the situation in 2000.
“Every local government area has better health/education situation today than in year 2000. We are delighted about that. Nigeria is our biggest commitment in Africa. It’s only in India that we do more in the world,” Gates was quoted as saying.
Adesina said Gates also spoke on polio eradication, observing that Nigeria reached a zero-wild polio virus free milestone for three years in August.
However, he added that Gates noted that the next six months would be critical because it would ascertain if Nigeria would finally be declared polio free or not.
Adesina also said Gates congratulated Buhari “for assembling a cabinet that excites us,” saying he was pleased that one of the priorities of the administration was human capital development with health, nutrition and education as key components.
He said Buhari applauded the contributions of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as well as Aliko Dangote Foundation to humanitarian and developmental activities in Nigeria.
According to him, the president said the two men had touched humanity in many positive ways, praising them “for achieving what you had set out to do.”
He quoted Buhari as saying, “Thanks for deriving pleasure in helping people. Congratulations to you for returning part of your wealth to the people in diverse ways.
“Whatever we save in areas in which you have intervened, we can deploy to other areas like building of infrastructure.”
The statement further said the president noted that Bill and Melinda Gates and Aliko Dangote Foundations had kept track of Nigeria’s attainments on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as enunciated by the United Nations, submitting that they were encouraged that there was improvement in the reduction of child mortality.
Furthermore, the statement said Dangote appreciated the Nigerian military for helping with vaccination in the theatres of war while fighting insurgency, thus adding to the advances in the country’s polio status
On agriculture, in which he said Dangote had made huge investments, Adesina said the president noted that farmers were very happy in Nigeria now, “as we have made fertiliser available, cut the price by half, and given many other incentives. They have no regret going back to the lands. The more we invest in agriculture, the better for us.”