PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), ministries of Agriculture and Finance to sort out issues concerning the $4.5billion Chinese facility for the procurement of agriculture machinery by states.
Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) and governor of Zamfara state, Abdul’aziz Abubakar, revealed this after a meeting with the president joined by Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Tuesday.
Speaking in an interview with State House correspondents after the meeting, he said discussion on the faculty followed President Buhari’s visit to China last year.
“Following the visit of Mr. President sometime last year, we engaged the Chinese government and they showed some willingness to support Nigeria,” he said.
Yari stated: “They are giving us a credit line of $4.5billion which will cover the machineries and infrastructure that is rural earth dams, irrigation and the loan has a 20 years 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 and the ministry of agriculture and rural development.”
He explained that they met the president to secure his leadership role in the effort to obtain the facility, saying that Buhari has now directed the relevant bodies to work together towards getting it.
Yari added: “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.”
“This government has said they will diversify the economy to agriculture and the only way that this can succeed is through Agric mechanisation.”
“The way we are doing farming today, many young men and women are not going to farm because of the way it is being done.”
He also spoke on the controversial London-Paris Club, saying that state governors have no issue with it.
The governor however expressed regrets that those who petitioned the forum did so hastily.
He said the problem was with consultants who worked with state governments and who were demanding to be paid whereas those being owed were yet to be completely determined.
He said the consultancy money was only domiciled with the NGF, adding that the consultants were yet to be fully paid.
He said: “There is no issue with the refund. The issue is with consultancy, which I think the minister of finance made clear that the consultancy which we decided to domicile in the NGF account was asked to work together on who to be paid or who not to be paid.”
“Some wrote a petition that they have not been paid and mind you we have not even started paying fully because we have to ascertain who worked for who.”
“As I am talking to you, we have a lot of litigations. Someone says he worked for so and so years for this state and that state.”
Yari, who said the NGF would soon come to a decision, added that the refund has helped the states and the nation’s economy.
“Let me tell you the truth, the London Paris club refund has helped this economy. Those in the state know about it. We were able to pay salaries during the Christmas and New Year and we were able to do so many things,” he stated.