The federal government has identified five key areas it hopes to collaborate with its Japanese counterpart to bring development to the people.
The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udoma, identified the areas as health, education, power, infrastructure development and agriculture.
Mr. Udoma, who was speaking with members of the Japanese Parliament led by Kiyoshi Ejima when they visited him in Abuja, said these five areas not only aligned with Nigeria’s development assistance programmes, but also the country’s needs.
“Japan’s contributions to Nigeria in these five areas through it government’s Overseas Development Assistance, ODA programme fits into the priority areas of the Nigerian government and (is) very valuable to the overall development agenda of the current administration,” Mr. Udoma said.
“The assistance has been very helpful because it focuses on our priorities, particularly in agriculture, industrialisation, transportation, power and oil and gas which are also the priority areas of focus in Nigeria’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, ERGP. So, the assistance you are giving are in our priority areas”, he added.
The minister told the parliamentarians that Nigeria is a country in a hurry for rapid economic development and would be willing to learn from the experiences of a country like Japan, which has done extremely well in its economic development strides.
Due to a number of opportunities for foreign investment in the country, the federal government introduced policies and initiatives to make doing business in the country easy and convenient for investors, the official said.
While acknowledging the contributions of the Japanese government to various aspects of Nigeria’s national life, Mr. Udoma told the visiting lawmakers that Nigeria appreciates the benefits of such development assistance.
The minister’s spokesperson, Akpandem James, who sent the minister’s statement on Wednesday said it was his boss’ belief that continued collaboration between the two countries could generate mutual benefits for their citizens.
Acknowledging the significance of the parliamentarians’ inputs in shaping government policies, Mr. Udoma said he remained optimistic that their visit to Nigeria would strengthen economic ties existing between the two countries.
In her speech, the Minister of State, Zainab Ahmed, observed that it was the first time parliamentarians from any country would visit Nigeria to monitor the progress of development assistance programmes.
She said this was a welcome development, as it would put the receiving country on notice that utilisation of the assistance was being monitored.
Meanwhile, Mr. Ejima, who is also a member of the Japanese House of Councillors, said that Japan attached great importance on its relations with Nigeria.
He expressed the support of his home government to assist Nigeria achieve her ambition of becoming one of the largest economies by the year 2020.
Referring to an earlier visit by a delegation of Japanese businessmen to Nigeria last year, Mr. Ejima said it further demonstrated the value Japan attached to its relations with Nigeria.
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