"We have the land. We have the people. Capital input is what we need,” said President Muhammadu Buhari as he begged the Queen of Netherlands, Maxima Zorreguieta, for funds to develop Nigeria.
Mr Buhari, who has been on a borrowing spree, told the Netherlands queen that he was doing his best to develop Nigeria, especially in the agricultural sector.
”People went back to the land, and this helped us tremendously. We made fertilizers available, resuscitated dams, and it all paid off handsomely,” added the president. “Otherwise, with about 200 million people, we would have been in trouble when COVID-19 struck and affected the economy.”
He said just like Oliver Twist, Nigeria could do with more help in investments, particularly in agriculture. The president further noted that Nigerian farmers were receptive to modern ways of doing things, especially cutting post-harvest waste.
Mr Buhari made these points during a bilateral meeting on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly holding in New York, USA, with Ms Zorreguieta.
A statement by the president’s media aide Femi Adesina disclosed that Mr Buhari, during the closed-door meeting, stressed the importance of infrastructural development for the advancement of the country.
“Without infrastructure, development would be limited, so we put emphasis on building roads, rail, and power. We have a comprehensive plan, and we are doing our best,” Mr Buhari explained to the queen.
He claimed that Nigeria was hampered by resources, despite being an oil-exporting nation and that with more financial wherewithal, his regime would speed up infrastructural development.
Mr Buhari assured the queen, who last visited Nigeria in 2017, that she would see a lot of difference if she came again.
In the area of agriculture, the president said Nigerian borders were closed with some neighbouring countries to encourage local farmers “and eat what we grow.”
Ms Zorreguieta lauded what she called “the huge effort” made by Nigeria to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, saying, “you spent a great part of your GDP.”
The queen disclosed she had a huge commitment to Nigeria. “You won’t be alone. We will be there along with other partners,” she told the Nigerian president.
The queen said agriculture was music to her ears, being the daughter of a former agriculture minister. She pointed out that her biggest plea would be for Nigeria to make infrastructure available so that investors and aid donors could access areas beyond the major cities.
“We need roads, railways, digital financial inclusion for farmers. The government needs to digitise all payments,” Ms Zorreguieta noted.