Published On: Wed, Apr 24th, 2019

Health, education my top priority in new govt – Buhari

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• Woos Qatar on investments, Lake Chad recharge
• PMB, UN scribe to head $50b fund raising drive

By Lawrence Olaoye

President Muhammadu Buhari has said that apart from issues of security, economy and fight against corruption, his administration in its second term would pay greater attention to citizens’ health and education.
This is just as the President has called on the Emir of Qatar, His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-thani, to invest in sectors like petroleum, power, aviation, agriculture, railways, and many others in the country.
Also yesterday, President Buhari welcomed the acceptance of the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, to co-chair a Special Session meant to raise $50 billion to fund the inter-basin water transfer from Central Africa to revive the Lake Chad.
According to a statement made available to newsmen yesterday by his spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, the President made the remarks while receiving the response of the Secretary-General to his earlier letter through the President of the African Development Bank, ADB, Nigeria’s Dr. Akinwumi Adesina at the State House, Abuja yesterday.
Buhari said such a Special Forum was necessary in view of the size of capital required for the project which was unavailable to the Lake Chad Basin countries.
In an earlier statement yesterday, Mallam Garba Shehu, said the President named his priority sectors in an audience with members of the United Kingdom-based Foundation for Good Governance for Development led by Dr. Arabo Ibrahim Bayo.
This came as the President added that his administration’s top priority was to that the efforts of hardworking Nigerian farmers are respected.
The President said it was in this regard that he directed the Ministry of Agriculture and the Central Bank of Nigeria to bypass the knotty issue of collateral which he described as “a terrible colonial legacy,” so that farmers will get easy access to capital.
He also identified smuggling as a threat to domestic agricultural production and processing, and promised to continue to fight the menace with all means available to government.
He assured that in addition to the focus of his administration on security, economy and the war against corruption, the new administration in his second term will pay greater attention to education and health.
“I understand our problems. I am acutely aware of my duty to my God and country. I will continue to do my best,” he told the support group.
Earlier, the leader of the group, which is mostly made up of scholars and professionals, said they came together on the basis of a shared passion for the country’s development, and in the firm belief that President Buhari represents the best in terms of leadership that Nigeria can offer.
He commended the achievements of the administration in the last four years in implementing its three cardinal objectives of providing security, improving the economy and the war against corruption, and suggested the declaration of an emergency to tackle challenges in education and health sectors. The group further pledged support to the President for a formidable and enduring legacy.
According to Buhari’s spokesman, Femi Adesina, the President also urged the Qatari leader to assist in the recharge of Lake Chad with water from the Congo Basin, so as to grant succour to the more than 30 million people adversely affected by the shrinkage of the lake over the years.
“We invite you to invest in our refineries, pipelines, power sector, aviation, agriculture, education, and many others, so that you can have your management here to oversee the investment. We need your expertise,” President Buhari said.
On the receding Lake Chad, he said of the over 30 million people affected, more than half were in Nigeria, and it has contributed greatly to illegal migration, as innumerable youths dare the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Sea, in order to find safer shores in Europe. A large number die in the process.
“We need help with the recharge of Lake Chad, as it is not a project that the concerned countries can handle alone,” President Buhari said, Sheikh Hamad Al-thani said he was honoured and happy to be in Nigeria for the first time, stressing it was a reciprocal visit to the one paid to Qatar in 2016 by President Buhari.
“The relationship between our countries is very good. We just have to build on it,” the emir said. “We share a lot of similarities in different areas. We need to enhance bilateral trade and economic cooperation. We are willing to do a lot more with Nigeria, and will continue to work on investment opportunities of mutual benefit,” he added.

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