New Telegraph

Tinubu meets Dangote, Bill Gates, promises to prioritise health of Nigerians

President Bola Tinubu has pledged to give priority attention to the health and safety of Nigerians, noting that for any country to develop, the health of its people, particularly the workforce, is critical. According to a release by his Special Adviser on Special Duties, Communication and Strategy, Dele Alake, the President disclosed this yesterday when he received in audience the Co-founder of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Mr Bill Gates, and President of Aliko Dangote Foundation, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, yesterday at the Presidential Villa. While saluting the courage and commitment of Bill Gates in working for humanity, he commended the partnership with Aliko Dangote Foundation.

The President said his administration would do all that is required to make their work in Nigeria and Africa successful, particularly in the area of eradicating polio, measles, malaria and other diseases from the continent. But he warned about the budgetary constraints and other issues around funding. The President, who praised Bill Gates’ efforts in the area of climate change and in eradicating polio and malaria from Africa, how- ever, told the philanthropist that the West needed to hear more from him with respect to the plight of the developing countries, saying, “you have all it takes to help developing nations more.” Dangote, in his remarks to the media after the visit, However, the report also stated that “total imports of agricultural goods in Q1’23 stood at N471.39 billion or 8.48 per cent of total imports in Q1’23. This is an increase of 5.97 per cent when compared to the value recorded in Q4’22 (N444.82 billion) and by 6.32 per cent when compared to the value recorded in Q1’22 (N443.36 billion).

“The major agriculture goods imported in Q1’23 included ‘Durum wheat (not in seeds)’ from Canada with N53.57 billion and Latvia with N47.34 billion. This was followed by ‘Mackerel (Scomber scombrus, Scomber australasicus, Scomber japonicus), meat, frozen’ from Chile valued at N8.10 billion.” This indicates that Nigeria recorded an agricultural negative trade balance of N191.75 billion in Q1. Given that before the discovery of crude oil in these parts and the crisis of oil dependency that usually accompanies it, Nigeria, especially, in the pre-independence period, used to known to be the world’s leading producer and exporter of major food crops (the country, for instance, was the largest exporter of palm oil and palm kernel products, only second in cocoa to Ghana and third in groundnut production), the nation’s fiscal and monetary authorities, have in recent years intensified efforts to promote agricultural exports.

This has resulted in a steady increase in the Nigeria’s agricultural exports in the last few years. Thus, New Telegraph’s findings show that agricultural exports from the country, which stood at N270 billion in 2019, rose to N321.5 billion and N504.9 billion in 2020 and 2021 respectively. Also, available data indicates that it exported agricultural goods worth N343.4 billion in the first half of last year, an increase of 17.3 per cent from N292.8 billion recorded in the corresponding period of 2021. Some of the country’s top agricultural exports in the period include: cocoa beans, Sesame seeds, and cashew nuts. Specifically, Nigeria exported cocoa worth N114.1 billion in the first half of 2022, accounting for 0.8 per cent of the total exports it recorded in the first half of last year. The country also exported Sesame seeds worth N81.49 billion, representing 0.6per cent of its total exports in the review period. Analysts note that the CBN, in particular, has in recent years introduced several initiatives and programmes aimed at boosting earnings from agricultural exports.

For instance, in June 2019, the apex bank, in collaboration with the Bankers’ Committee unveiled an Export Facilitation Initiative (EFI), a programme targeted at facilitating exports in the non-oil sector of the economy. According to the CBN, under the initiative, the focal commodities for value chain development would be cocoa, cashew, palm oil, shea and sesame seed. The apex bank emphasised that the commodities are to be funded under the approved guidelines its Agri-Business Small and Medium Enterprises Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS), the Non-oil Export Stimulation Facility (NESF), and the Real sector Support Facility- Differentiated Cash reserves requirement (RSSF-DCRR) in line with the approved limits in the EIF Funding Framework. gratulated President Tinubu on his election and successful assumption of office. He said the visit to the Villa was to brief Tinubu on the activities of Bill and Me- linda Gates Foundation and Aliko Dangote Foundation, highlighting their commit- ment to improving the health sector in Nigeria. He expressed the Founda- tions’ willingness to cooper- ate further with the govern- ment in achieving its goals. The philanthropist seized the opportunity to commend the President for the removal of fuel subsidy, expressing confidence that more state funds would be allocated to education, health, infrastruc- ture, and other critical areas of the economy.

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