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The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, has expressed the readiness of his ministry to form a strategic alliance with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for improved agricultural development and the provision of employment opportunities for the teeming youths of the Niger Delta region.

The minister, who disclosed this during a meeting with officials of the bank when he paid a courtesy visit to the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, in his office in Abuja, said the joint venture would not only help to explore the agricultural potentials of the region but also value-addition to its food production.

Akpabio explained that the ministry has a pilot programme on rice production in the nine states of the region which it is determined to commence, noting that this would help to provide employment opportunities for the people, check hostilities and improve the living standard of the people in the region.

According to the minister, the cooperation between the CBN, his ministry and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is real, adding that it has come to stay even as he commended Emefiele for what he has been doing so far in the Anchors Borrowers Programme.

In his remarks, the Minister of State in the ministry, Senator Omotayo Alasoadura, commended the willingness and knowledge base of the CBN officials on every aspect of the projects, expressing the readiness of the ministry to work with the CBN so that they would be on the same page in doing the needful and driving the process.

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Reaffirming Akpabio’s position, Alasoadura noted that President Muhammadu Buhari’s vision is the urgent need to develop the Niger Delta people and region, adding that it was the motivation that is driving the process.

With the support of the CBN, he said: “We are going to work to ensure that efforts of both sides come to fruition.”

In his remarks, the Special Assistant to the CBN Governor, Mr. Anthony Ikechukwu, noted that the apex bank offer is open to supporting viable projects with no limit to financing in different aspects of agriculture development, if it is evidence-based and assures the minister that the apex bank is going to work across the region with the various teams that have been put on ground.

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