Fred Itua, Abuja
The African Development Bank (AfDB), yesterday, said it has earmarked $500 million loan for the development of four agro-industrial zones across various states of the Federation. AfDB which made the revelation when it paid a courtesy visit on Clifford Ordia-led Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debt, said other development partners have also pledged their support.
President of the bank, Akinwumi Adesina, who was represented by his senior special adviser on Industrialisation, Professor Oyebanji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka, said discussions with the Federal Government started since April, 2019.
Called Special Agro Industrial Process, he said it will be similar to the free trade zone, where thousands of direct and indirect jobs will be created for Nigerians across the country. He said: “We have been engaged with the Federal Government since April last year. One of the standout issues in the discussion is the issue of agriculture. There something called Special Agro Industrial Process. It’s similar to the free trade zone. We are in 15 different countries.
“The idea of the zone is for dedicated agribusiness. Africa is lagging behind. Farmers work hard, but they get very little. When the President of the bank was the Minister of Agriculture, he started about 14 of these zones. A lot was spent. Since he left as Minister, nothing has happened since then. “The bank has advanced $500 million to beef up these zones in the next few years. The private sector and others are pledging support. These funds will be used to provide roads and other infrastructure.
“We are tired of people laughing at us in Nigeria. This project is working in other countries. It can also work here. The AfDB is there to support Nigeria.
“Our goal is that, in the next two years, we will begin to see results. Every state will be affected. Nigeria shouldn’t be importing food. We should be at the forefront of exporting food to other parts of the world.
Speaking on behalf of other senators, chairman of the Committee, Ordia, pledged the support of the upper legislative chamber.
He urged the continental bank to carry every stakeholder along, while decrying the late briefing of lawmakers.