The Federal Government is to seal a $98million (N15.3billion) agreement with the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) to facilitate its drive for improved infrastructure quality as a crucial platform for its current transformation agenda.
President of the Bank, Ahmad Mohammad Al-Madani, who puts the bank’s current investment in Nigeria at about $470million, said the funding initiative is expected to be used on capital projects that would impact on the quality of existing infrastructure, support the current efforts aimed at improving investors’ confidence in the economy.
The loan deal is also to help improve the standard of education in the country, with emphasis on bilingual education that would link the Quoranic schools with Western education in the country.
Mr. Al-Madani expressed the hope that the fund would also help to provide credits and insurance cover for Nigerian businessmen.
As part of the funding deal, top government functionaries and officials of the bank are billed to participate in a two-day business forum scheduled for Abuja on Thursday to enable them share experiences on areas of mutual interests between Nigeria and the bank in the years ahead.
Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, recalled that Nigeria became a full member of IDB in June, 2005, pointing out that the partnership with the bank, especially the new funding arrangement, would help Nigeria to grow the private sector and by implication support the nation’s investment up to the tune of about $200 million.
“We see the IDB as a strong partner,” Mrs.Okonjo-Iweala said. “Since our economy also needs foreign direct investment to grow, the IDB gesture has become inevitable”
Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, said that given the global experiences, which showed that the bank has been supportive of developmental initiatives in other economies with good results to show for such partnerships, there was the need to give IDB a chance in current efforts targeted at creating a stronger base for the nation’s economy to be globally competitive.