President Muhammadu Buhari expresses gratitude to Portugal for helping to ensure peace in the sub-region

President Muhammadu Buhari expresses gratitude to Portugal for helping to ensure peace in the sub-region

On Thursday night, President Muhammadu Buhari thanked Portugal for providing military equipment and training to help maintain peace in the sub-region.

Speaking at a State Dinner in Lisbon, Portugal’s capital, the President praised President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa for sending troops to the Central African Republic to keep the peace, for keeping an eye on political developments and for helping some African nations, such as Equatorial Guinea, Cape Verde, and Mozambique.

President Buhari stated that the Nigerian government has prioritised addressing the issue of insecurity in Nigeria, the ECOWAS, and the Sahel during the dinner that was attended by Prime Minister Antonio Costa and President Augusto Santos Silva of the Portuguese National Assembly.

He continued by saying that without our regional and international allies, this would not have been a success.

‘‘The Boko Haram insurgency in the North-eastern part of Nigeria is being tackled through the efforts of government, as well as the Multinational Joint Task Force (MJTF) of member countries,’’ he said.

President Buhari expressed optimism that his State Visit would further strengthen the goodwill and collaboration between the two countries.

He noted that the establishment of a Joint Commission, which is one of the main priorities of the visit, would further promote the full realisation of the objectives of bilateral relations, achieving concrete, specific and viable projects and programmes for the benefit of citizens of the two countries.

‘‘Today, Portugal imports about 60 percent of its gas from Nigeria which makes it our second-largest market in Europe.

‘‘There is still more that can be achieved between the two countries, especially with the current Russia-Ukraine war which has disrupted steady gas supplies to Europe.

‘‘Furthermore, Nigeria wants to see trade diversified to non-oil products such as agriculture, power projects, renewable energy and pharmaceuticals where a lot could be achieved,’’ he said.

The President emphasised the significance of reviving the Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) and concluding all outstanding bilateral agreements in order to increase trade and travel between the two nations.

Nigeria, according to President Buhari, is one of the continent’s top investment destinations, and his administration is putting a high priority on creating a business-friendly environment.

‘‘Nigeria is part of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) – the largest free trade area in the world. With a population of over 200 million mainly young men and women, Nigeria is a natural and attractive hub for foreign investment and one-stop market access to over 50 countries.’’

The business chambers and investment promotion organisations from the two nations signed numerous Memoranda of Understanding during the visit, which the leader of Nigeria welcomed.

He characterised the agreements’ signing as laying “excellent foundations for increased bilateral trade.”

In addition, President Buhari praised his Portuguese counterpart for engaging with Africa and African issues outside of Lusophone nations.

‘‘In that context, I wish to remind us that in addition to giving our former capital, Lagos, its name, the Portuguese were the first Europeans to arrive in what later became Nigeria, even before the British.

‘‘During that time, the Benin Kingdom had diplomatic relations with the Kingdom of Portugal. The bodyguards of the Oba of Benin were sent from Portugal.

‘‘Today, there are streets in some states in Nigeria that still bear Portuguese names. This shows a strong bond that has endured a long time between our two countries,’’ President Buhari said.