The Islamic Development Bank Group (IDBG) on Monday formally opened its Nigeria Country Gateway Office in Abuja with a mission to focus its services on health, agriculture, infrastructure, small and medium-scale enterprise and regional integration.
The group said it was also considering the education sector, particularly bilingual education, among its priority service areas in Nigeria as a key tool to counter extremism.
“These are what we aspire to do as IDB Group and what we stand for,” its President, Ahmad Ali, said in his statement at the opening ceremony in Abuja.
Reiterating IDBG’s mission to strengthen solidarity and economic relationship among member countries, Mr. Ali said opening the office in Nigeria was to reinforce the cooperation between it and Nigeria as the largest member in Africa.
The group’s presence in Nigeria, he said, would strengthen socio-economic, technical and commercial cooperation between the bank and member countries in Africa.
While expecting Nigeria to play a key role in realizing these objectives, Mr. Ali said this was important with the completion of the last portion of Trans Saharan Road linking Algiers in North Africa and Lagos.
“There is an urgent need to develop and implement an action plan for countries along this road, including Nigeria, to benefit from the infrastructure economically, commercially and financially,” he said.
As host of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) secretariat, Mr. Ali said it was important for Nigeria to contribute to regional cooperation and integration, assuring the bank would be willing to lend its support.
He pledged the bank’s readiness to support Nigeria’s development priorities and ensure its services complemented the ones by other development partners as they relate to the country’s transformation process.
The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, who, prior to the opening received Mr. Ali in her office, urged the IDBG to support Nigeria’s effort to reconstruct the North East part of Nigeria devastated by years of militancy by insurgent group, Boko Haram.
The minister said development partners should work with Nigeria for the implementation of recently constituted plan by the Buhari administration to reconstruct the region through various intervention projects relating to peace building, stability and social cohesion.
Mrs. Adeosun also called for support to critical productive infrastructure and service delivery; provision of capacity building and programme management support in national, states and local government institutions.
Describing the opening of the office as important milestone in the bank’s relationship with Nigeria, Mrs. Adeosun said it would not only strengthen cooperation, it would help bring the bank closer to the people and enable it appreciate the challenges ordinary Nigerians face.
Apart from collaborating with government to execute projects to improve living standards of the people, she said IDBG’s presence would add to the pool of development partners in Nigeria and the bank’s international standing.
“Nigeria looks forward to a stronger engagement in its development aspirations. The IDBG must use its experience in mobilizing resources, as it has done in other countries, to support government in its drive to diversify the economy.
“As Nigeria strives to attain sustainable development goals (SDGs), IDBG must support through its products and services for Nigeria not to be left behind. The bank must scale up its concessional resource and increase overall financing to Nigeria and other African member countries,” the minister said.
The IDBG is a multilateral development bank made up of 57 member countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America . Its aim is to foster economic development and social progress of member countries and Muslim communities in non-member countries.
Nigeria, the 56th member of the group, joined in 2005.