President Muhammad Buhari has directed the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to liaise with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Ministries of Finance and Budget/National Planning to speed up the $4.5 billion agriculture loan promised Nigeria by the Chinese government.
The credit facility, which is repayable in 20 years but with a five-year moratorium and at one per cent, was agreed on during Buhari’s official visit to China in April last year.
It is to assist state governments and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in the procurement of strategic machinery for rural development and agriculture. These include tractors, bulldozers, graders, irrigation pumps, and others.
The Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, and the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, announced the presidential directive on Tuesday after a closed-door meeting with Buhari at the State House, Abuja.
Yari told State House correspondents that the Chinese government and the People’s Bank of China “are giving us a credit line of $4.5 billion which will cover the machineries and infrastructure for rural earth dams, irrigation; and the loan has a 20-year repayment term with five years moratorium.
“Initially, we started negotiations to drop a counterpart funding of 25 per cent, but understanding the economy of Nigeria, we negotiated to give a counterpart funding of 10 per cent which we believe Nigeria can do and we are targeting the Natural Resources Fund for the counterpart funding.
“We are now speaking with the Chinese group and the Nigerian governors and the technical committee that was set up by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development.
“So, we have now come to a stage where the President needs to come in so that he can give us a leadership role and a kind of approval of a certain level so that we can forge ahead.