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Buhari calls for debt relief for struggling economies

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PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has called for “humane approach” to investing as the only way to weather the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

  This was contained in a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, titled ‘President Buhari says long-term peace, stability will depend on investing inhumane policies, relieving debt burdens’.

  According to the statement, President Buhari, who spoke on Tuesday, during the opening ceremony of the 5th Edition of annual Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference in the Saudi capital,  Riyadh, decried the “crushing effects” of the debt burden on poor countries weighed down by the pandemic.

  The president attributed growing social unrest to inequalities and unfair policies that exclude the majority from opportunities for participation, admonishing world leaders and global investors to prioritise inclusive and humane policies.

  According to him, “by so doing, it will go a long way in reenergising the global economy in a post-COVID-19 era.”

“Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy and most populous nation. Our economic reforms which focus on “humane” investments are ideal for investors looking to have profitable returns while positively impacting the citizenry.

“Investing in humanity is the right thing to do. I strongly believe the historical under investments in ‘humane projects’ is the genesis of most of the insecurity and socio-economic challenges the world is experiencing today,” he said.

Buhari added that, in line with the theme of the summit, “Investing in Humanity”, Nigeria is focused on people-oriented development policies, with diversification from oil to more inclusive sectors such as agriculture, ICT and mining; tackling corruption, insecurity and climate change and introducing Social Investment Programmes.

“Investing in humanity is investing in our collective survival. This is why we in Nigeria believe that public and private partnerships should focus on increasing investments in health, education, capacity building, youth empowerment, gender equality, poverty eradication, climate change and food security.

“Nigeria’s population today exceeds 200 million people. Some 70 per cent are under 35 years old. When we came into government in 2015, we were quick to realise that long-term peace and stability of our country is dependent on having inclusive and humane policies,” he said. We should continue to sustain our efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and mitigate its negative socio-economic impact on our societies, build resilience and achieve recovery,” Buhari said.

The president noted that investment in humanity must also take into consideration the effects of debt burden on nations, which had been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We cannot invest in humanity without relieving our countries from the crushing effects of the debt burden especially when the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the risk of deepening the debt portfolio of poor countries.

“These nations increasingly allocate more and more resources towards external debt servicing and repayment at the expense of the health, education and other services that contribute to the overall well-being of their population,” he said.

  He said by introducing policies that support investments in agriculture and food processing, and providing loans and technical support to smallholder farmers. “Nigeria today has over 40 rice mills from less than 10 in 2014. Nigeria also has over 46 active fertiliser blending plants from less than 5 in 2014.

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