By Christiana Ekpa
The Speaker of the House of Representatives Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila has asked the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to intensify its intervention programmes in areas of health care delivery services and agriculture.
The Speaker, while receiving members of the foundation’s delegation, led by its President, Global Development, Mr Chris Elias, in his office during a courtesy call on Thursday, said Nigeria is always desirous of collaboration with development partners that would impact positively on the socio-political and economic development of the country.
He said Nigeria’s collaboration with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation becomes imperative as the country marches toward the diversification of its economy and improved healthcare service delivery to the people.
He said: “We believe very much in collaboration with development partners, and we welcome the collaboration in healthcare service delivery since Nigeria is perhaps your biggest operations in Africa.
“We want the collaboration to remain that way and probably become your biggest operations in the world one day. We’ll continue to reach out to you in polio eradication and agriculture since Nigerian is on the march to diversify its economy,” the Speaker said.
Gbajabiamila also implored the foundation to work closely with relevant committees of the House, whose leadership and membership were carefully selected to reflect the seriousness attached to each sector of the Nigerian society.
Earlier in his address, Mr Elias said the visit was to familiarise with the Speaker and the House as well as seek areas where the Speaker would want the foundation to improve its collaborate with Nigeria.
Saying that Nigeria is the largest Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation office of the three offices in Africa, Mr Elias noted that the foundation has been very active in the areas of agriculture and health, especially polio eradication as well as nutrition.
Accompanied by their Nigerian partner, the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Mr Elias informed the Speaker and members of the House at the meeting that the foundation was also active in the improvement of primary healthcare in the northern part of the country.
Present at the courtesy call were the Deputy Speaker Rt. Hon. Ahmed Idris Wase; Deputy House Leader, Rt. Hon. Peter Akpatason; Deputy Chief Whip, Rt. Hon. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha; Minority Leader, Rt. Hon. Ndudi Elumelu; Minority Whip, Rt. Hon. Gideon Gwoni, and chairmen as well as members of relevant committees of the House.