President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan has said Nigeria was in need of support of all international financial institutions in view of its present economic challenges.
Nigeria a country with a mono product-driven economy is at the mercy of the downward slide in the price of crude oil in the international market.
Receiving the new World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, Senator Lawan said Nigeria would appreciate the support of the World Bank to mitigate poverty.
He attributed the dwindling earnings from crude oil to the ravaging deadly virus, Coronavirus, which he noted was impacting negatively in the nation’s revenue projection to drive 2020 Budget.
He said: “This meeting is a very important meeting coming at a time that Nigeria, particularly, is facing a lot of challenges of financing our infrastructural development.
“It cannot be more auspicious than this. But of course, the world itself is facing the economic upheaval of some sort because of the Coronavirus or COVID-19 infection across the globe.
“Nigeria has been involved with the World Bank for a long time now and you have been very supportive. But this is the time we need you most.
“The 2020 budget was designed to be funded, in a very large part, by foreign borrowing, especially for our capital projects.
“Nigeria is to take a loan of about 17 billion dollars from China out of the 22.7 billion dollars that was passed by the Senate. But today we are not sure of what will happen because almost every country from where we are supposed to borrow the money is facing some challenges.
“This is the time the World Bank should stand out to come to the aid of Nigeria. Normally you will discuss what the issues are and what the request of the country is. I’m sure you have known our challenges because you have been involved in so many things including our power sector.
“I know that you know the issues. We have the issue of power in this country. It is a major issue. Before the security situation deteriorated, our main problem towards achieving our desired development in Nigeria was power.
“The security situation took centre stage because it is about life and death. I’m sure that if we are able to resolve the security challenges we are going through in Nigeria and then fix our power, Nigeria will be a great country.”
The Senate President who further painted a picture of an economy in doldrums, however, said President Muhammadu Buhari’s promise to take 100million Nigerians out of poverty in ten years was realisable, provided friends of Nigeria come to her aid.
“It is possible because we have the ingredients and we have friends who will help us. This is where the World Bank is also needed.
“How do you help us achieve that? It is achievable. Other countries have achieved that, India, Brazil and China have done quite well.
“Not only money but the technical support we require because it is not only given us loans and grants but even how to apply and deploy resources to achieve these goals will be so important and critical.
“So, how do you help us in this year 2020 to take 10 million Nigerians out of poverty and take out an additional 10 million in 2021, and then 2022?
“In fact, if you help us in one, two years I’m sure, from crawling we will start running on our own because we would have seen and received the attention, resources and support we required and the rest we can do on our own.
“This is the time for Nigeria to know its friends because it is when you are in a serious crisis that you require attention and support that will know who is there for you and I want to believe that the World Bank will be on our side as you have been with us always for a long time.”
Lawan equally appealed to the World Bank to allow Nigeria to leverage its influence to recover looted public funds in offshore banks.
“It has been a very very difficult and monumental situation to ask and get those monies back to Nigeria even if you identify where they are.
“For a developing country, such resources are important and critical to our efforts in developing our country.
“So, how is World Bank helping us in ensuring that we get back some of these resources knowing fully well that some of these powerful countries will protect such funds and it becomes difficult for us to get our money back.”
Earlier in his remarks, the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria assured told Senator Lawan that the international financial institution was ready to support the Federal Government in its poverty alleviation programmes.
“It is an opportunity for us to have your thoughts on where you will like to see us direct our support having in mind our ultimate mission is to help eliminate poverty.”