President Goodluck Jonathan has urged the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) to inject more capital into the Nigerian economy in an effort to address the country’s infrastructural challenges.
Jonathan, who was represented by Vice-President Namadi Sambo, made the appeal while declaring open the first IDB-Nigeria Business Forum in Abuja on Thursday.
He said the call was necessary given that Nigeria, being an important member of the bank, was looking forward to an opportunity to re-build its infrastructure, revamp the manufacturing sector and create employment for the youth.
“I hope that this two-day business forum will create more opportunities for government and the private sector to take advantage to improve our economy.
“I want to see more capital injected into our businesses from the banks in support of infrastructural development and general economic development.
“This will complement our current efforts of a sustained economic reform and development.”
Jonathan further called on the bank to sustain the momentum of the forum by organising more of such events to allow more Nigerians access to the various facilities and opportunities provided by the bank.
The president said government had introduced reforms that would create the atmosphere conducive for sustainable economic development.
He said that government was strengthening its agencies such as the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), to respond to the yearnings and aspirations of investors from within and outside the country.
“The One Stop Investment Center (OSIC) is also being empowered to make it more proactive and result-driven in attending to both existing and potential investors.
According to him, the current Transformation Agenda is hinged on good governance, infrastructure and human capital development.
He pointed out that the agenda is expected to impact positively on job creation, poverty alleviation and sustainable economic growth and development.
“We expect a GDP growth rate of 7.98% in 2012. This is significant, given that the GDP growth rate in most of the developed world is falling with most of their economies in turmoil.
“Our per capital income is expected to rise from about $1,222 to $1, 450. Inflation has fallen from 12% at the end of 2010, to 10.3% at present.”
Jonathan commended the bank for opening a regional office in Nigeria.
The president said government would continue to support the bank in its efforts towards building stronger development institutions that would speed up the developmental needs of its member-countries.
In his remarks, the President of IDB Group, Dr Ahmad Al-Madani, reiterated the determination of the bank to work in concert with other multilateral and bilateral development finance institutions.
He said working together would enable them to leverage knowledge and financial resources to better support targeted development activities in Nigeria.
He announced the bank’s approval of $98 million for the implementation of the Bilingual Education Program in Nigeria.
“The IDB Bilingual Education Program will support government policy to integrate and modernise Almajiri and Tsangaya schools.
“The program is designed to bridge the gap between the two education systems - Madrassa and formal schools - and promote unity, cohesion, encourage peace and harmony, mutual respect and cultural tolerance and understanding, with a positive impact on MDG education goals, and inclusive and value-based education.
“It will get the Almajaris out of the street and give them an equal opportunity to compete for jobs and earn a decent living.”
On the forum, Al-Madani explained that it was meant to avail the Nigerian public the products, services and working of the institution.
He stressed that the bank was not a religious bank, saying that “the bank does not impose conditionality for access to its products by member countries, and nor does it engage in ethnic chauvinism''.
He enumerated several intervention projects the bank was undertaking in Nigeria, to include the National programme for Food Security, Zungeru dam project, Mambilla hydroelectric dam project, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and National Railway Rehabilitation project as well as the Shagamu-Benin dual carriage project.
The event witnessed the signing of the Bilingual Education Programme (BEP) between Nigeria and the Bank.