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Buhari ties border closure to Nigeria’s COVID-19 emergency response success

By Idowu Abdullahi

President Muhammadu Buhari has listed border closure as part of initiatives that boosted the country’s chances in containing outbreak of coronavirus pandemic, saying Nigeria’s emergency response would have flooped without food suffiency that was achieved by the closure of all land borders across the nation.

He added prior to outbreak of the deadly disease, the closure had forced many Nigerians, particularly the youths to return to the farm and chose agriculture as career line with support from the Federal Government in terms of farm inputs, fertilisers among others to augment their work.

The president noted that the Nigerian borders were closed with some neighboring countries to encourage farmers and ensure unemployed youths see agriculture as viable avenue of making legitimate money rather than venture into fraud and other unworthy shady dealings.

“and eat what we grow. People went back to the land, and this helped us tremendously. We made fertilizers available, resuscitated dams, and it all paid off handsomely. Otherwise, with about 200 million people, we would have been in trouble when COVID-19 struck, and affected the economy,” he said.

The president who spoke yesterday during a bilateral meeting at the margins of the United Nations General Assembly holding in New York, USA, with Queen of Netherlands, Maxima Zorreguieta, said that just like Oliver Twist, Nigeria could do with more help in the area of investments, particularly in agriculture.

“We have the land, we have the people, capital input is what we need,” Buhari stated, adding that Nigerian farmers were quite receptive to modern ways of doing things, especially in respect of cutting post-harvest waste.

According to him, Nigeria was well aware of her limitations, and thus prioritized the provision of infrastructure.

“Without infrastructure, development would be limited, so we put emphasis on building roads, rail, and power. We have a comprehensive plan, and we are doing our best,” the president said.

He added that the country was hampered by resources, despite being oil exporting, and that with more financial wherewithal, infrastructure works would be sped up.

President Buhari assured the Queen, who last visited Nigeria in 2017, that if she came again, she would see a lot of differences.

On her part, Queen Zorreguieta lauded what she called “the huge effort” made by Nigeria to combat the Coronavirus pandemic, saying; “you spent a great part of your GDP.”

She said she had a huge commitment to Nigeria, “and will want to accompany her to do more. You won’t be alone. We will be there along with other partners.”

The Queen said that agriculture was music to her ears, being the daughter of a former Minister of Agriculture, and her biggest plea would be for Nigeria to make infrastructure available, so that investors and aid donors can access areas beyond the major cities.

“We need roads, railways, digital financial inclusion for farmers. Government needs to digitize all payments,” she said.

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