*Joins world leaders to tackle debt, poverty issues
*Says he’s prepared for business, ready for investors to come to Nigeria
*Meets with Afreximbank, EBRD presidents
*At meeting with Shettima, Gates foundation votes $7bn interventions for Africa in next four years
Deji Elumoye in Abuja
President Bola Tinubu, yesterday, in Paris, France, warned that ignoring Nigeria with her large and potent economy would be a peril to the universe.
Tinubu, however, joined other world leaders on the consensus for redesigning the global financial architecture that would favour poverty reduction, debt restructuring or cancellation, and more consideration for vulnerable countries affected by climate change and Covid-19.
He also declared that the ongoing reforms, starting with removal of fuel subsidy and streamlining of exchange rate, would be sustained for a more competitive economy that would attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the country, and therefore, urged foreign investors to take advantage of opportunities in Nigeria.
Tinubu, who received President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim), Prof. Benedict Oramah and President of European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Odile Renaud–Basso, at separate meetings, on the sidelines of the Summit for New Global Financing Pact, said, “We are ready for business, prepared to welcome investments.”
The President, according to a release issued by his Special Adviser on Special Duties, Communications and Strategy, Mr Dele Alake, told the EBRD president, that, “We are challenged in terms of reforms, and we have taken the largest elephant out of the room with removal of fuel subsidy, and multiple exchange rates are equally gone. We are determined to open up the economy for business. Consider us a stakeholder in the Bank.”
According to him, Nigeria’s economy was too large and potent to be ignored, adding: “Ignoring Nigeria will be a peril to the universe.”
On his part, Renaud-Basso said it would be a mistake for the development bank not to invest in Nigeria, after considering six potential economies for investment, explaining also that focus would be on the private sector, especially Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs).
At a separate meeting, he assured the delegation of AfreximBank Executives that the federal government would continue to stimulate the economy with policies that support investments in areas of Nigeria’s competitive advantage, particularly agriculture.
“We need reforms for national survival,” he said, noting that it would take boldness and courage to reposition the economy, calling for more collaboration to solidify the economy.
“We must stimulate recovery for the growth and prosperity of our people, which will not be far away. Nigeria is ready for global business and our reform is total. Nigeria is blessed with human and material resources,” President Tinubu told the delegation, who had earlier listed areas of interventions to buoy the economy, like infrastructure, health, energy and agriculture.
AfreximBank president commended Tinubu for the bold steps in removing the fuel subsidy and unification of the exchange rate, assuring the Nigerian leader of the full support of the financial and development institution on the ongoing reforms.
Oramah said the bank was already building the first African Specialist Hospital in Abuja, and Energy Bank, pledging to inject more money into the economy to further build confidence of investors.
In yet, another release by Alake, the president, who arrived at the venue of the event, Palais Brongniart, at 8.59 am (Local Time), yesterday, in Paris, France, for the opening ceremony of the High Level Summit for New Global Financing Pact and was received by the French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs, Catherine Colonna.
Welcoming the world leaders to Paris, French President, Emmanuel Macron, said the Summit would focus on drawing up a new financial order that would scale up finances and support developing countries for energy transition, poverty reduction, while respecting the sovereignty of each nation.
UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, also told the gathering of leaders that the high level summit would need more mobilisation and political will for redesign and implementation.
In another development, Vice President Kashim Shettima, has expressed Nigeria’s readiness to address concerns surrounding the financing of primary healthcare system in the country.
This was as Mr. Bill Gates, has disclosed that his foundation had the intention to commit $7 billion to Africa in the next four years, to support routine immunisation in Nigeria, and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in Northern Nigeria.
However, in Paris, the French president noted that African countries had been at the receiving end of the major global challenges, with debt hangovers that hamper growth and development.
“Covid-19 pandemic brought lots of difficulties and now we are faced with the war in Ukraine that has been draining resources that should be channeled into human development,” he said.
Macron told the leaders from 50 countries, multilateral institutions and the private sector that justice and fairness must be imperative in redesigning the new world financial architecture, with more focus on the most vulnerable.
The French president listed four elements for consideration by the leaders, starting with an acknowledgement that reducing poverty would require collective efforts, with a more diverse and comprehensive framework.
“We must admit that no country can succeed alone in reducing poverty and protecting the planet,” he said.
Macron said the framework should be relevant to each country, and subregional roles included, with clear responsibilities and benefits, while multilateral institutions like the International Monetary Fund and World Bank must be re-engineered to be more people and solutions-driven.
He noted that the private sector must be carried along in the new pact that sought to harmonise growth, as they controlled most of the financial instruments that needed to be liquified for more even development, especially on health, education and food security.
On behalf of the African countries, the President of Niger Republic, Mohammed Bazoum, said the new pact must be “urgent” and “essential” to Africa, and the framework should be “just” and “robust” in reflecting the reality of developing countries as partners.
According to him, the challenges of impoverishment and desertification had stimulated unrest in most countries, affecting peace and stability in sub-regions and the continent.
“In Africa, we need support for infrastructure, health, food security and education,” he stated.
UN Secretary General Guterres, said many countries were still struggling from effects of Covid-19 and climate change, and that the war in Ukraine had heightened sufferings.
Guterres said some African countries had been unable to service their debts, with indications that generations might be affected.
“African countries,” he said, “were not properly captured in the global order.”
According to him, the new global financial pact must address fragmentations and frustrations, and enable the kind of change that encourages debt relief, suspension of repayments, change of business models and more commitment from development banks, with guarantees.
The UN scribe, who said leaders must look beyond reforms, and accept the need for transformation, added that, “We are at a moment of truth and reckoning, and we can make it a moment of hope.”
On his part, Climate Activist, Vanessa Nakate, from Uganda, who called for a moment of silence for the helpless and hopeless across the world, said broken promises cost the lives of many in developing nations.
The presidents and leaders of multilateral institutions and the private sector at the Summit went into syndicate sessions to discuss the new financial architecture.
President Tinubu will today participate at the summit, which will unveil a New Global Financing Pact and mechanism for implementation.
Shettima: We’re Ready to Address Nation’s Primary Healthcare Finance
Vice President Kashim Shettima has expressed Nigeria’s readiness to address the concerns that surround the financing of primary healthcare system in the country.
Shettima gave the assurance yesterday at a meeting with Chairman of Dangote Foundation, Alhaji Aliko Dangote; Co-Chair of Bill Gates Foundation, Bill Gates and some governors under the auspices of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, at the Banquet Hall of the State House, Abuja.
Noting that polio was one of the major primary healthcare challenges in the country, the vice-president disclosed that, “the proposal is to provide timely domestic financing for the procurement of vaccines, which couldn’t have come sooner, to boosting our industrial capacity to produce vaccines.”
While acknowledging the threats facing Nigeria in the area of polio, he stated that Nigeria’s three dose pentavalent vaccine coverage has improved from 33% in 2016 to 57% in 2021, adding that, “the variant polio virus has declined in Nigeria by 84% from 2021, falling to fewer than 200 cases in 2022.”
He therefore, commended the states that have achieved high category immunisation coverage, “which is between 60% and 80% of the target demographic and the number of states has expanded from 12 to 21 states in five years.”
The vice-president further stated that, “the federal government and our respective state governments are going to set in place a transparent process and structure to undo the reality of the country as one with one of the highest proportions of non-immunised infants in the world over the last decade.”
Shettima stressed that the federal government was “committed to eradicating variant poliovirus by the end of the year ensuring that every Nigerian child is covered in the routine immunisation campaigns.”
On the issue of production of vaccines for immunisation of children, he assured them that, “We are going to work together to ensure that these vaccines are made available even to zero-dose children, of which ours, at 2 million, are the highest in the world after India.”
He then expressed the appreciation of the federal government to partners like Alhaji Aliko Dangote’s Foundation and Bill Gates’, whose empathy shone through that uncertain period in history.
Earlier at the interactive session, Gates disclosed that his foundation had the intention to commit $7 billion to Africa in the next four years; to support routine immunization in Nigeria, and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in Northern Nigeria.
Dangote also stated that Gates and himself had been partnering both the federal and state governments for several years, supporting the efforts in eradicating polio and improving routine immunisation, nutrition and primary healthcare in the country.
“We genuinely believe that the National Economic Council and the decisions that you will make over the next four years will determine whether Nigeria has sound economic growth, keep its citizens happy and achieving the sustainable development goals,” he added.
In separate remarks, Chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Alhaji Abdulraman Abdulrazaq and some governors, who spoke at the parley lauded the philanthropic interventions of the Dangote and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundations in critical areas, including healthcare, education, agriculture and human capital development.
The governors expressed their readiness to further collaborate with the Dangote and Gates Foundation in the coming years.