The Zamfara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari, on Tuesday said the Chinese government had offered to open a credit line of $4.5bn for Nigeria to improve agriculture in the country.
Yari disclosed this to State House correspondents after he and the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, briefed President Muhammadu Buhari on the development at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The governor said following Buhari’s visit to China, Nigerian officials engaged the Chinese government, who showed willingness to support.
He said, “They are giving us a credit line of $4.5bn, which will cover the machineries and infrastructure that is rural earth dams, irrigation and the loan has a 20-year repayment term with five years’ moratorium.
“Initially, we started negotiations to drop the 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. 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.”
Yari said the government was making progress in the partnership.
He added that the President had given his commitment and asked the governors to engage the ministers of Finance, Budget and National Planning and the Central Bank of Nigeria to conclude and then the Agriculture minister would make a presentation to the Federal Executive Council, then to the National Assembly for final approval.
Ogbeh recalled that during the President’s visit to China, an agreement was signed for all the states, including the Federal Capital Territory, to procure strategic machinery for rural development and agriculture.
He said, “The Chinese were willing to supply us these machine on a long-term basis, 20 years’ credit at an interest rate of one per cent 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.”