By Femi Adesina
(Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity)
President Muhammadu Buhari Monday in Abuja called on Nigeria’s elite to be prepared to contribute more meaningfully towards helping the country overcome its current challenges.
Speaking at an audience with the outgoing President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Donald Kaberuka, President Buhari said that privileged and influential citizens clearly have to do more now than in the past to help the country deal successfully with its economic and security problems.
“With the shock of falling oil prices, lack of revenues, and insecurity, the Nigerian elites must now wake up and provide the right guidance in their communities, and also lead the economy on the right path more than they used to do,’’ the President said.
President Buhari also told Mr. Kaberuka that his administration will welcome more support from the AfDB for projects in versatile sectors like agriculture that can easily be explored to create more jobs for unemployed Nigerians.
“An impression has been erroneously created that we are a rich country but looking at the economic profile of the country today, you will see that that is not necessarily the case.
“Our social services have to be seriously rehabilitated. We need urgent attention on areas like education and health services, not only in the north eastern part of the country, but all round the country.
“We will fall back on institutions like the AfDB for support in generating employment. We have vast potentials in the agricultural sector that can be explored to create more jobs.
“We also have small businesses that need funds for expansion,” the President told Mr. Kaberuka and other AfDB officials.
The outgoing AfDB President told President Buhari that some development institutions like the World Bank, German Development Bank and the European Development Bank had already indicated their readiness to provide long term loan facilities to small businesses in Nigeria.
Mr. Kaberuka assured the President that the AfDB will always support economic projects in Nigeria.
Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina of Nigeria will replace the outgoing AfDB President next month.
The AfDB currently has a strong capital base of 4.8 billion U S dollars.