Vice President Kashim Shettima has identified education and skills development as panacea for addressing poverty and hunger in Nigeria.
He stated this Wednesday during a meeting with a delegation from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation led by the President of its Global Growth & Opportunity Division, Mr Rodger Voorhies, at the Presidential Villa.
Sen. Shettima underscored the impact of climate change on agricultural productivity and the urgent need to adopt climate-smart agricultural practices to ensure food security for Nigeria’s growing population.
Accordingly, the vice president urged the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to forge a strategic partnership with the Nigerian government to enhance agricultural productivity, improve nutrition and strengthen the education sector.
He also charged the Foundation to support President Bola Tinubu’s gender empowerment initiatives, noting that the programmes, which are focused on the girl child are critical to Nigeria’s drive to alleviate poverty.
Vice President Shettima expressed his appreciation for the foundation’s significant contributions to Nigeria, particularly in the areas of polio eradication and primary healthcare delivery.
Highlighting the need for the foundation’s continued support in the Nigerian agricultural sector, the VP said, “We are investing heavily in agricultural innovation and best agricultural practices to enhance productivity. However, we need the expertise and resources of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to accelerate our progress.”
Sen. Shettima, in a statement by his spokesman, Stanley Nkwocha, emphasised the importance of education and skills development in addressing poverty and hunger.
He urged the foundation to collaborate with the Nigerian government in expanding access to quality education and further provide opportunities for skills development, particularly in the agricultural sector.
“By the end of the century, we are projected to be the most populous nation on earth. This demographic bulge can be transformed into a dividend or a disaster. Investing in education and skills development is crucial for ensuring that our growing population becomes a source of strength and not a burden,” he stated.
Reiterating his call for a strong partnership between the Nigerian government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, VP Shettima expressed confidence that such a partnership could yield transformative results in addressing Nigeria’s agricultural, nutritional and educational challenges, paving the way for a more prosperous and sustainable future for the nation.
Earlier, Mr Voorhies, said he and his team were in the country to strengthen existing collaborations with Nigeria and also seek other areas of partnership with the new administration especially in priority sectors.