Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Tuesday praised the ECOWAS Bank for investment and Development for being proactive in infrastructure funding and development in the sub-region.
He sated this while declaring open the 15th Ordinary Session of the Board of Governors’ Meeting of the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID), in Abuja.
According to him, a strong, vibrant and creative EBID is a strong pillar in development of the sub-region.
“So, without question, the challenges today call for greater creativity and foresight in supporting and making investments in our member countries.
“So one of the crucial issues today which will decisively impact the future is how the bank can make a difference in the lives of our young people.
“And there are opportunities for strategic investments in relevant education; especially in the under-served disciplines such as science, education, engineering and maths.
‘’Perhaps also the rising scale of foreign investment influence in business start-ups by our young people should be taken by our local finance institutions such as the EBID as a challenge to be just as relevant and invested in the dreams and visions of our local talents.
‘’Here in Nigeria we like to see you become more active in supporting our investments and infrastructure ambitions.’’
According to Osinbajo, the federal government is working hard to attract greater local and foreign investments and has put in place the needed reforms required to create an enabling environment for these investments.
He stated that with the country’s robust economic plan and the ongoing business environment reform it was confident that investing in Nigeria would continue to be a smart business decision.
The Vice President stated that there was no doubt that the success of the Nigerian economy with its population in the region and as the largest GDP in the continent would positively influence the whole sub region.
Osinbajo also underscored the importance of agriculture in the economic resurgence of West Africa and stated that it was important to fund the sector focusing on improved inputs, cutting-edge extension services and agro processing.
He remarked that an important initiative was the regions Agriculture Productivity Programme aimed at achieving a six per cent agriculture growth and food production.
He stated that although it was a World Bank food programme, those in the region and the EBID could do more especially with mobilizing resources for a major agriculture fund with emphasis on promoting inclusion and jobs.
He said: “I think that the emphasis of that fund must be agriculture for inclusion and for jobs.
“Clearly the fastest way of providing jobs today, especially for our teeming populations many of which are still in rural areas, is the provision of smart agriculture that aims at providing real jobs that can make real impacts in the lives and livelihoods of our citizens.’’
The Vice President admitted that the country was aware of the numerous challenges confronting the bank in recent times, arising from limited resources, which had limited its capacity to function optimally as a true financial arm of the community.
“So, clearly it is in our interest as member states to do more to address the Bank’s funding challenges, as the Bank seeks to innovatively mobilize resources from across the continent and beyond, in line with its corporate objectives.
“Clearly, a well-resourced EBID could play a pivotal role in financing the achievement of the objectives of Vision 2020.
“Which envisages the transformation of the ECOWAS Space from an ECOWAS of States to an ECOWAS of People, in which the people are prosperous, properly governed and have the capacity to access and harness the enormous resources of the Community.’’