Vice President Kashim Shettima, on Wednesday, identified education and skills development as a panacea for addressing poverty and hunger in the country.
Mr Shettima stated this at a meeting with a delegation from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The delegation was led to the State House by the President of its Global Growth and Opportunity Division, Rodger Voorhies.
Mr 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.
He emphasised the need for the foundation to forge a strategic partnership with the Nigerian government to enhance agricultural productivity, improve nutrition and strengthen the education sector.
Mr Shettima also enjoined the foundation to support President Bola Tinubu’s gender empowerment initiatives.
The vice president noted that the programmes, which are focused on the girl child, are critical to Nigeria’s drive to alleviate poverty.
Mr Shettima expressed his appreciation for the foundation’s significant contributions to Nigeria, particularly in the areas of polio eradication and primary healthcare delivery.
Similarly, the vice president stressed the need for the foundation’s continued support in the Nigerian agricultural sector.
“We are investing heavily in agricultural innovation and best agricultural practices to enhance productivity.
“However, we need the expertise and resources of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to accelerate our progress,” he said.
Mr Shettima also 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 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.
He called for a strong partnership between the Nigerian government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Mr Shettima expressed confidence that the partnership could yield transformative results in addressing Nigeria’s agricultural, nutritional, and educational challenges.
He added that the partnership would pave the way for a more prosperous and sustainable future for the nation.
“If a nation is not independent in food production, it remains a dependent nation. So, I am soliciting your partnership and attention.
“Join us in our drive towards combating poverty and hunger in sub-Saharan Africa as you did in Southeast Asia,“ he added.
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.
He commended Mr Tinubu’s administration’s agenda on food security and healthcare delivery.
He acknowledged the vice president’s leadership and commitment to nutrition and agricultural transformation.
He assured of the foundation’s commitment and readiness to support efforts aimed at achieving set goals and objectives.