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On a recent trip to Nigeria, Bank Group President, Donald Kaberuka, met with Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo, where they discussed matters of common interest. Mr. Kaberuka also met with top government officials including the Minister of Finance; the Federal Capital Territory Minister; and the Minister of Health as well as representatives from donor agencies such as the IMF, the World Bank, CIDA, USAID, DFID, FAO, UNESCO, JICA, EU. The President’s visit falls within the framework of his familiarization tour of regional member countries.
During his trip which took him to several Nigerian cities including Lagos, he visited the Nigerian Stock Exchange and met with key private sector players. The President also met with Kaduna State Govenor and later visited the Yusuf Dantsoho Memorial-Tudun Wada General Hospital in Kaduna City. Nigeria is a key economic player on the continent. The size of its economy, its internal potential and, above all, its investment portfolio at the Bank make it extremely important.
Bank staff and management need to think more strategically to build a robust and diversified portfolio, in particular in the private sector, President Kaberuka urged. To this end, he identified the following as areas requiring attention: infrastructure development and capacity building; Small and Medium Enterprises development; the strengthening and deepening of capital markets, and the development of financial systems to support the mortgage industry.
The Bank Group President also highlighted the challenges he thought were facing Lagos, Abuja and other African cities in general. These problems include rapid urbanisation and urban poverty. He also advised that while addressing poverty in the rural areas, the population shift taking place across the continent also needs to be recognized and more attention needs to be given to the tackling of emerging urban challenges.
On his way to Abuja, President Kaberuka stopped over at the Km-26 Nomadic Training Centre. The Centre is one of the two nomadic training institutions which will receive funding under the Skills Training and Vocational Education Project (STVEP). The STVEP was approved in July 2005. The UA 30 million ADF loan, equivalent to US$44.5 million, will benefit ten institutions, including five Federal Science and Technical Colleges, two teacher training institutions, one women development centre and two Nomadic Centres. The centre visited by the Bank Group President will receive a UA 1,402,178, equivalent to US$2.07 million support. The loan agreement was signed in Abuja in May 2006.
KM-26 Nomadic centre is unique in that it is the only one outside a grazing reserve and also the only designated centre for training of trainers for over 20 nomadic centres in the country. The funds allocated to the Centre under the project are for the implementation of activities, including the construction and rehabilitation of office buildings, classrooms, students’ hostels and staff housing. The funds will also be used for the purchase of office, classroom, laboratory, library and kitchen furniture as well as equipment.
At the centre, the President was received by the Executive Secretary of the National Commission for Nomadic Education, Dr. Nafisatu Mohammed, centre management, staff and students and other community members. In her welcome address, Dr. Mohammed enumerated the achievements of the 17-year old Commission which include the development and adaptation of curricula and teaching guides for primaries 1-6 in 8 subjects, establishment of model schools in some of the grazing reserves, establishment of partnerships and linkages with international development organizations such as DFID and JICA resulting in the donation of a training hall and hostel as well as teaching materials.
Earlier, the Executive Secretary had briefed the President on the goal of the Commission whose objective is to enhance access to formal and informal education for three kinds of migrants, namely; pastoralists, fishermen and the migrant farmers and their families. Of the estimated population of 10 million nomads scattered over 36 states including the federal capital territory, over 3 million are children of school age. There are a total of 5000 teachers, majority of them holding the grade two certificates in all the training schools. Some of the educational activities carried out in the centre include; formal primary education for children of the nomads, adult literacy classes in both local and English languages, skill training in the production of yogurts and other milk-related products for nomadic families.
In his response, Mr. Kaberuka said he was happy that the Bank would be partnering with the centre to improve the lives of nomads, adding that the centre and community should ensure that no child was left behind and that every child should get enrolled in school. He also urged the centre management to help organize the community to improve their lives.
The President was taken round the centre by the Executive Secretary to meet the primary school children, observe an adult training session, skills acquisition training section for women, animal clinic, water supply site (borehole), hostel accommodation for trainees and the animal feed (grass) preservation building. The President used the occasion to encourage students at the school, urging them to consider themselves as the leaders of tomorrow. He also advised them that, regardless of the circumstances of their birth, with education and determination, they could rise and be noticed through their contributions to society. He also exhorted parents to keep their children in school in order to increase their chances of having a better future.