President Muhammadu Buhari has met with Bill Gates and Aliko Dangote in New York and thanked them for their philanthropic gestures.
Buhari met with the generous men, on the sidelines of the 74th UN General Assembly on Wednesday night.
Gates is the co-chair Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is involved in several humanitarian works in Nigeria, such as the fight against polio and malnutrition.Dangote, Africa’s richest man is also the chair of Aliko Dangote Foundation.
Buhari applauded the contributions of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as Aliko Dangote Foundation to humanitarian and developmental activities in Nigeria.
The President said the two foundations they lead, 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,” President Buhari said.
On agriculture, in which Alhaji Dangote makes huge investments, the President noted that 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 land. The more we invest in agriculture, the better for us.”
Mr Gates congratulated President Buhari “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.
Noting that Bill and Melinda Gates as well as Aliko Dangote Foundations keep track of Nigeria’s attainments on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as enunciated by the United Nations, he submitted that they 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,” Mr Gates said.
On polio eradication, he said Nigeria reached a zero wild polio virus free milestone for three years in August, noting that the next six months were critical, so that the country could finally be declared polio free.
Alhaji 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.
*Updated at 11.41 a.m on Thursday