President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan has urged the World Bank to come to the aid of Nigeria in her effort at poverty alleviation in the country.
Lawan made the appeal on Tuesday, 17 March, 2020 when the new World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri led a delegation of the Bank officials on a courtesy visit to his office.
Lawan said this is the time Nigeria needs the World Bank the most when the Coronavirus, the global pandemic, is making it difficult to raise revenue for the implementation of the 2020 budget.
“This meeting is a very important meeting coming at a time that Nigeria, particularly, is facing a lot of challenges of financing our infrastructural development.
“It cannot be more auspicious than this. But of course the world itself is facing economic upheaval of some sort because of the Coronavirus or COVIC-19 infection across the globe.
“Nigeria has been involved with the World Bank for a long time now and you have been very supportive. But this is the time we need you most.
“The 2020 budget was designed to be funded, in a very large part, by foreign borrowing especially for our capital projects.
“Nigeria is to take a loan of about 17 billion dollar from China out of the 22.7 billion dollar that was passed by the Senate…But today we are not sure of what will happen because almost every country from where we are supposed to borrow the money is facing some challenges.
“This is the time the World Bank should stand out to come to the aid of Nigeria. Normally you will discuss what the issues are and what the request of the country is. I’m sure you have known our challenges because you have been involved in so many things including our power sector.
“I know that you know the issues. We have the issue of power in this country. It is a major issue. Before the security situation deteriorated, our main problem towards achieving our desired development in Nigeria was power.
“The security situation took centre stage because its about life and death. I’m sure that if we are able to resolve the security challenges we are going through in Nigeria and then fix our power, Nigeria will be a great country,” Lawan said.
The Senate President recalled the promise made last year by President Muhammadu Buhari to take out 100million Nigerians out of poverty in ten years stressing that the promise is realisable.
“It is possible because we have the ingredients and we have the friends who will help us. This is where the World Bank is also needed.
“How do you help us achieve that? It is achievable. Other countries have achieved that, India, Brazil and China have done quite well.
“Not only money but the technical support we require because it is not only given us loans and grants but even how to apply and deploy resources to achieve these goals will be so important and critical.
“So, how do you help us in this year 2020 to take 10 million Nigerians out of poverty and take out additional 10 million in 2021, and then 2022?
“In fact if you help us in one, two years I’m sure, from crawling we will start running on our own because we would have seen and received the attention, resources and support we required and the rest we can do on our own.
“This is the time for Nigeria to know its friends because it is when you are in serious crisis that you require attention and support that will know who is there for you and I want to beleive that the World Bank will be on our side as you have been with us always for a long time,” Lawan said.
The Senate President also urged the World Bank to assist Nigeria in the ongoing drive to repatriate the money looted by Nigerians and stashed in foreign banks.
“It has been a very very difficult and monumental situation to ask and get those monies back to Nigeria even if you identify where they are.
“For a developing country, such resources are important and critical to our efforts in developing our country.
“So, how is World Bank helping us in ensuring that we get back some of these resources knowing fully well that some of these powerful countries will protect such funds and it becomes difficult for us to get our money back,” Lawan said.
Earlier, the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Mr Chaudhuri told his host that “we are here to support the government’s programmes particularly as it relates to poverty alleviation, that is our ultimate goal.
“It is an opportunity for us to have your thoughts on where you will like to see us direct our support having in mind our ultimate mission is to help eliminate poverty.”