President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed special appreciation to the government of Japan for donating $800 million to the fight against malaria and tuberculosis, among other deadly diseases, in Nigeria.
The contribution was part of the $1.3 billion made available to the Nigerian health sector by the Global Fund.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI) in Nairobi, Kenya, on Saturday, Buhari gave an assurance that his government would ensure full rehabilitation and resettlement of the victims of the Boko Haram insurgence in the north-east who are currently scattered in different camps as Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs.
The two-day summit which had the theme, ‘‘Advancing Africa’s Sustainable Development Agenda-TICAD Partnership for Prosperity”, attracted the presence of the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, some 35 African leaders and chief executives of at least 80 major companies from Japan.
The TICAD VI agenda and programme was specifically focused on the three thematic areas – “Economic transformation through diversification and industrialization; Promoting resilient health systems for quality life; and Promoting social stability for shared prosperity.
Buhari said the Nigerian military had decimated the insurgents and that normal life was beginning to return to northeast Nigeria.
The president however said that the welfare of the IDPs remained his primary responsibility.
The president commended development partners for their help to improve the lives of the 2 million IDPs in the country.
He said: “The bottom line is that these problems are our primary responsibility. We must tackle them and find lasting solutions for ourselves.
”I took over the mantle of leadership in Nigeria when the North-Eastern part of the country was being ravaged by Boko Haram.
”However, soon after assumption of office, our administration with the support of our immediate neighbours — Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Benin – and international partners, including Japan, faced the challenge frontally.
”As I speak, the terror group has been decimated and life is beginning to return to normal in the affected region. The challenge we currently face which is also being addressed, is that of the IDPs which number over two million to get them re-integrated with their families and their original homes.”
On the gains of TICAD, which was holding on African soil for the first time since its beginning in 1993, the president noted that partnerships between Africa and Japan would help create and improve investment opportunities in industries, agriculture, information technology, science and technology among others for the good of the continent and investors from Japan.
He told the conference that already his government had taken concrete steps to diversify the economy.
”In view of the challenges Africa is facing, the imperative for a viable partnership like the Tokyo International Conference on African Development cannot be over emphasized.
”Today, many countries in Africa including the oil producing ones are wisely seeking to diversify their economies away from mono-cropping.
”In Nigeria, our administration has already taken concrete steps to diversify the economy by making agriculture not just a development programme but a thriving business.
”Investing in the economies of this continent, especially through Public-Private-Partnership, can contribute to building capacity for our economies,” he said.