PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has observed that Nigeria is now a poor country, but that commitment to transparency and accountability is helping his administration, despite severe shortage of resources in the country.
He made the remark on Thursday, at the State House, Abuja, while receiving the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Executive Director and Under Secretary General of the United Nations, Professor Babatunde Osotimehin.
He said: “It has been a very difficult year for Nigeria. Before we came to office, petroleum sold for about $100 per barrel. Then, it crashed to $37 and now oscillates between $40 and $45 per barrel.
“Suddenly, we are a poor country, but commitment to transparency and accountability is not making people know that there is severe shortage.”
Asking UNFPA to bear with Nigeria in whichever area the country could not live up to its responsibilities for now, President Buhari said exploding population and different cultural practices in the country provided fertile ground for research to organisations like UNFPA.
The president thanked the UN agency for its commitment to saving lives in Nigeria, particularly women and children.
On food security, President Buhari said reports from the North-East of the country were encouraging, as people were returning to their farmlands, with the guarantee of relative security.
Professor Osotimehin, a former Minister of Health, said UNFPA was determined to promote health care facilities across the country, noting that reduction of maternal mortality was doable, if the country paid more attention to accessing health facilities and human resources to run them.
He also encouraged Nigeria to commit to providing resources for health care on a rollover basis, pledging that the UN would work with the country to provide humanitarian assistance, not only in the North-East, “but even extended to the Lake Chad basin.”