Nigeria - President Muhammadu Buhari has announced plans to spend $575 million on rural roads in 19 states targeted at improving food production, agricultural marketing, and maintenance of rural roads network.

The benefitting states are Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bauchi, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Gombe, Kogi, Katsina, Kaduna, Kano, Kebbi, Ogun, Ondo, Oyo, Osun, Niger, Plateau, and Sokoto.

Buhari noted that the funds would be jointly financed by the International Development Association (IDA) ($280 million), the French Development Agency ($230 million) while Nigeria will contribute $65 million.

President Buhari who stated this at the launch of the Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project on Tuesday in Abuja noted that his administration would continue to change the narrative of the economy through the diversification of different initiatives.

Represented by Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum, Buhari said: “The project is consistent with Nigeria’s vision 2020 priorities. The proposed interventions will support Pillar 3 of the vision’s strategic framework.

“The project, with a total outlay of US$575 million, will be jointly financed by the International Development Association (IDA), the French Development Agency, and the Government (participating states).

“The contribution from the IDA is US$280 million, the contribution from AFD is US$230 million (Euro 200 million equivalent) and the contribution from the government is US$65 million respectively.”

He added: “Over the cause of this administration, we have midwife several reforms centered projects in partnership with various developmental partners notably the World Bank, the Price Development Agency, the African Development Bank, and a host of others.

“We have made all efforts to ensure that all projects align with the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan of this administration.

“This plan set out in the first instance, to restore macroeconomic in the short-term and to undertake several reforms in infrastructure investment to diversify the economy and set it on the path of sustained inclusive growth over the long term.

“Indeed, the multi-sectoral approach of RAAMP makes it a microcosm of the ERGP. I commend the World Bank and other development agencies.

“It is my administration plan to ensure that every state benefits from this laudable project.

“It is also pertinent to state here that this administration remains committed to changing the narrative of the economy through diversification of initiatives like this one.”

The World Bank Country Director, Shubham Chaudhuri in his address, advised the Federal Government to channel subsidy funds into agriculture and infrastructure.

He expressed worry if Nigeria would be able to sustain the fund’s investment in subsidy in the nearest future.

Chaudhuri said the World Bank would continue to always support Nigeria. He, however, revealed that the board approved over $9.2 billion so far which “seems to be the largest for any country in the world but for me is almost a footnote relative to the kind of financing Nigeria needs”, he noted.

“We are very happy to be supporting Nigeria, the Federal Government as well as the States on this.

“Second point is scale; you have to scale up, we can have it achieved anywhere as Nigeria did like 230,000 kilometers of rural or secondary roads because Nigeria offers over 87 percent as far as we can tell, which we can get 30,000 kilometers of roads that are passable but the remaining 170,000 are not.

“So if you think of tackling that problem and scale you think of the issue of affordability. We are interested in providing financing not just for RAAMP but so many other developments needs all over Nigeria in the last two and half years.

“The board has approved over $9.2 billion and seems to be the largest for any country in the world but for me is almost a footnote relative to the kind of financing Nigeria needs.

“The vision to achieve a national programme in this case rural roads and connectivity, which is basically affordable as well as a real partnership, our financing is a little bit of a contribution.

“The federal government comes in with their contribution. The scale of financing that is needed would be achieved. We will also be happy to contribute as much as we can for this and other priorities.

“For the states and federal governments to be able to provide such financing there have to be some choices that are made and one of the biggest choices Nigeria needs to make is whether Nigeria can continue to put N5 trillion to its PMS subsidies every year or N6 trillion probably next year. What could be done with this N6 trillion both at your state and local government levels?”, he added.

The Bayelsa state Governor Duoye Diri while speaking with journalists, commended the World Bank and the AFD for the support given the recent floods that have destroyed their roads and washed away many bridges.

He said the state will continue to support RAAMP as it is one of the means to develop rural agriculture communities.

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