From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has given approval to the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning and the Central Bank of Nigeria to sort out the technical details of $4.5b Chinese loan to Nigeria for the procurement of strategic machinery needed to boost agricultural development in the country. The loan has a repayment period of 20 years with 5 years moratorium and an interest rate of one percent per annum. The Zamfara State governor, Abdulazeez Yari, and the Minister of Agricultural Resources, Audu Ogbeh disclosed this to State House correspondents after a meeting with President Buhari, at the Presidential Villa. Yari said, the loan is part of negotiations held to deal with the procurement of needed machinery for agricultural development in all states of the federation when the president visited China last year. “They will give us a credit line of $4.5 billion which will cover the machinery and infrastructure that includes rural earth dams, irrigation, and the loan has a 20 years repayment term with five years moratorium. “Understanding the economy of Nigeria, we negotiated to give a counterpart funding of 10 percent which we believe Nigeria can do and we are targeting the natural resources fund from the counterpart funding,” the governor said. He said also that discussions are already on with the Chinese group, the Nigerian governors and the technical committee that was set up by the minister and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. Yari said they were in Villa to see the president because it has come to the point where they needed his approval to move to the next level of negotiations. “So we are making a huge progress with this partnership and realize that China is coming first to support this country. The president has given us his commitment and also asked us to engage the minister of finance, budget and national planning and the CBN to conclude and then the minister of agriculture will make a presentation to council, then to the National Assembly for final approval,” he said. Ogbe, on his part explained that, an agreement which engages all the states including FCT was signed from the Federal Ministry of Agricultural for the procurement of strategic machinery for rural development and agriculture. They include tractors, bulldozers, graders, irrigation pumps, trailers and so on from China. “The Chinese were willing to supply us these things on long term, 20 years credit at an interest rate of one percent per annum. A committee has been working on the matter and we are close to sorting out all the small details and that is why we came to see the president,” he said.