President Muhammadu Buhari says Nigeria is ready to fill the natural gas gaps in Europe predicated by the current Russian-Ukrainian war

President Muhammadu Buhari says Nigeria is ready to fill the natural gas gaps in Europe predicated by the current Russian-Ukrainian war

President Muhammadu Buhari said on Thursday in Lisbon, Portugal, that Nigeria is prepared to fill natural gas gaps in Europe caused by the current Russian-Ukrainian conflict.

The President also stated that Nigeria, with a population of over 200 million people, primarily young people, is ready to serve as the hub of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA).

President Buhari urged Portugal to consider Nigeria as a valued and trusted partner in Africa in his statement on areas of cooperation between Nigeria and Portugal delivered at the Presidential Palace in Lisbon.

The Nigerian president identified five key areas of cooperation and collaboration that could propel both countries forward, saying:

‘‘At a time the world is going through turbulent times, we feel that a strong friendship and partnership between Nigeria and Portugal can act as a force for good.’’

He listed the following areas of cooperation and collaboration: oil and gas, tourism and hospitality, air travel, security, and joint commission.

With the current Russian-Ukraine war, President Buhari stated that increased cooperation in oil and gas between the two countries is critical to avoid a crisis in the demand and supply chain, despite the fact that Nigeria is already a major supplier of gas to Portugal.

On tourism and hospitality, President Buhari stated that Nigeria has enormous potential in the sector and would like to benefit from his hosts’ enormous expertise in this area, as demonstrated by Portugal becoming a top tourist destination.

On air travel, the President emphasised the importance of signing a Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) and establishing a direct air link between the two countries as soon as possible.

He emphasised the importance of cooperation between the two countries in this area for increased trade and investment, tourism promotion, people-to-people contact, and social and cultural engagement.

In reaffirming Nigeria’s renewed commitment to fighting terrorism in Lake Chad and the Sahel Region, President Buhari told his Portuguese counterpart that Nigeria would welcome the Portuguese government’s assistance in the form of intelligence and information sharing, weapons, and training for member-state security personnel.

President Buhari also emphasised the importance of establishing a Joint Commission, saying:

‘‘We believe that the establishment of a Joint Commission will help to promote the full realization of the objectives of our bilateral relations.

‘‘The Commission would facilitate the institutionalization of cooperation mechanisms and permit the elaboration and implementation of concrete, specific and viable projects and programmes for the benefit of our people.’’

Furthermore, the President added that Nigeria and Portugal can cooperate closely on a range of agricultural and renewable energy projects.

‘‘Nigeria recognizes Portugal’s comparative advantages in the fields of renewable energy and pharmaceuticals which are also priority areas for Nigeria.

‘‘Other areas of cooperation which are of importance include; the Establishment of an Atlantic Research Centre; Political Consultations; Diplomatic Training; Cultural Cooperation; Investment Promotion; Chambers of Commerce Cooperation; Women and Child Development; Youth and Sports Development and Digital Economy Cooperation.

‘‘That is why we look forward to signing Memoranda of Understanding and Cooperation Agreements in those areas,’’ he said.

Earlier, during the President of Portugal’s ceremonial welcome at Praca do Imperio, President Buhari laid a wreath at the tomb of the national poet, Luis Vaz de Camoes, at the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos. The Monastery of Jeronimos is one of Portugal’s most ornate churches. Vasco da Gama’s body is interred in the lower chancel, just left of the entrance, opposite the venerated 16th-century poet Lus Vaz de Cames, widely regarded as Portugal’s Shakespeare.

The view of the church from the upper choir is spectacular; the rows of seats are Portugal’s first Renaissance woodcarvings. The President’s State Visit officially began here, with President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa greeting visitors with an impressive military parade and a guided tour of the Monastery.

In addition, the Nigerian leader was awarded the Portuguese National Honour and the ‘Great Collar of the Order of Prince Henry.’