President Muhammadu Buhari Wednesday applauded the contributions of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Aliko Dangote Foundation to humanitarian and developmental activities in Nigeria.
Meeting with the duo on the sidelines of the 74th United Nations General Assembly in New York, the president said they have touched humanity in many positive ways, and congratulated them “for achieving what you had set out to do.”
“Thanks for deriving pleasure in helping people. Congratulations to you for returning part of your wealth to the people in diverse ways. Whatever we save in areas in which you have intervened, we can deploy to other areas like building of infrastructure,” he said.
On agriculture, in which Dangote makes huge investments, the president said farmers were very happy in Nigeria now, “as we have made fertilizer available, cut the price by half, and given many other incentives. They have no regret going back to the lands. The more we invest in agriculture, the better for us.”
In remarks, Mr Bill Gates congratulated the president “for assembling a cabinet that excites us,” saying he was pleased that one of the priorities of the administration was human capital development, of which health, nutrition and education are key components.
He said Bill and Melinda Gates and Aliko Dangote Foundations keep track of Nigeria’s attainments on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as enunciated by the United Nations.
He said the two foundations were encouraged that there was improvement in reduction of child mortality.
“Every local government area has better health/education situation today than in year 2000. We are delighted about that. Nigeria is our biggest commitment in Africa. It’s only in India we do more in the world,” he said.
On polio eradication, Gates said Nigeria reached a zero wild polio virus free milestone for three years in August, stressing that the next six months were critical, so that the country could finally be declared polio free.
Also speaking, Aliko Dangote, appreciated the Nigerian military for helping with vaccination in the theatres of war while fighting insurgency, thus adding to the advances in the country’s polio status.