Nigeria and India can benefit from each other through cooperation in transportation, power, infrastructure and agriculture, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udoma, said on Thursday.
The minister was speaking when the Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Abhay Thakur, visited him in Abuja.
Mr Udoma said Nigeria has lots of potentials India could tap into.
He also said Nigeria has a lot to learn from India’s successes in the areas of technology, particularly in rail and power, as well as human capital development.
The Buhari administration, he said, is focused on bridging the huge infrastructure gap in the country, particularly in the areas of transportation and power infrastructure.
He said the administration desires to create avenues to lift majority of Nigerians out of poverty through agricultural development and other empowerment programmes.
“President Buhari has a vision and dream of connecting every city and town in Nigeria with standard gauge rail lines. And Nigeria would stand to benefit from India’s experience and assistance to achieve the goal in the rail sector,” he said.
“This is an area we will like to collaborate with you to see how we can tap from India’s experience,” the minister told the visiting envoy.
Like India, he said Nigeria has been working hard to bring down its poverty level, “which is why government is putting a lot of resources to empower poor and vulnerable persons, by lifting them out of poverty”.
He said about N500 billion is provided by government annually in the national budget for social intervention programmes targeted at empowering the people “so that they can be useful to themselves and the society”.
Mr Udoma said under the Social Intervention Programme (SIP), “the government is not just giving the people fish, it is also teaching them how to fish”.
Although India is one of Nigeria’s largest trading partners, especially in crude oil, Mr Udoma said the government would want the Asian country to buy more of the country’s oil as well as develop interest in the gas sector.
He assured the High Commissioner that the tempo of economic activities in the country will not slow down due to the forthcoming general elections.
“President Muhammadu Buhari is not looking at the next election, but looking at the next generation with the purpose of taking Nigeria to the next level,” he said.
‘India willing to partner’
The High Commissioner, who resumed work in Nigeria last month, said India was willing to strengthen its development cooperation with Nigeria.
He said India would be glad if Nigeria could take advantage of some of the assistance programmes the Indian government has made available to the African continent.
Mr Thakur said although the leaders of the two countries had some dreams about cooperation in some critical areas, “some of those dreams are yet to be transformed into real projects on the ground”.
He specifically said India would like to collaborate further with Nigeria in the rail and power sectors as well as “any other areas of interest to Nigeria.”