President Goodluck Jonathan
Agha Ibiam in Londonâ€¨
President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday met with the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, at Number 10 Downing Street in London where both leaders discussed issues bothering on trade and economic relations between the two countries.
Besides, both Jonathan and Cameron discussed how to seek better cooperation in combating terrorism with deeper allusion on Mali and Boko Haram.
The president spoke strongly on the need for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to maintain a long term peace keeping mission in Mali to avoid a resurgence of the terrorism.
“After the intervention in Mali, we have to sustain it because the militants might mix with the local people to cause more havoc, and therefore there is need for us to have superior intelligence network to combat the dissidents,” Jonathan told Cameron.
President Jonathan’s visit came a day after the victory of the national team, the Super Eagles, over Burkina Faso at the just concluded African Cup of Nations’ (AFCON) in South Africa.
While welcoming Jonathan for an interim talk that lasted for less than 10 minutes with journalists before engaging themselves in an expansive discussion with other government officials of both countries, the Prime Minister first expressed his sympathy and condolences with Nigeria on the appalling murder of some medical personnel in Kano and promised that Britain was committed to assisting the country in the eradication of the menace of terrorism.
“We want to make the relationship closer, which will be based on successful trade and investment set to double in the future. We have a good diplomatic and political relationship as well as important aid and development which we want to build on and support each other where necessary,” he said.
The prime minister spoke on the situation in West Africa, particularly Mali and how Britain and Nigeria could work together for a meaningful development.
He reiterated Britain’s commitment and promised that both countries would have a close relationship for economic reasons.
The president, who drove to Number 10 Downing Street amid rain and slight snow showers, was personally received at the door by Mr. Cameron at about 10.15a.m. Jonathan had earlier called at the office of the deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Nick Clegg, at 9.45a.m. where he spent 30 minutes with him.
However, the president’s discussion with Clegg was not open to journalists, but a source said it was not far from what he discussed with Cameron.
The president urged the prime minister to use the United Kingdom’s presidency of the G8 and the summit which will be held in the UK in June to push for a better trade, tax treaty and transparency for the continent.
Jonathan said he appreciated UK ’s support to Nigeria and Africa especially on development efforts and support against terror groups.
He congratulated the prime minister for taking the chairmanship of G8.
Jonathan said the G8 should focus on trade because the continent is quite interested in issues of trade, treaties and tax transparency, saying that if Africa has robust relationship in-terms of trade between African nations and other continents, it will facilitate the production of goods, growth and development.
He maintained that the country had saved a lot of revenue as a result of security intervention on oil thefts that were stealing ‘blood crude’ and refined them outside the country but later imported same for supply, just like the G8 countries have strong feelings about money laundering from political office holders.
The president said some of the problems facing Africa are the free movement of small arms and light weapons and implored the G8 countries to support the continent in that regard.
He however thanked the prime minister for co-chairing the sustainable development growth with the president of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and promised that he would support and work with the team to ensure that Africa nations explore the opportunity.
On his part, Cameron promised that he would always advance any course of action that will benefit both countries.
“You are very welcome today to discuss all of these issues including terrorism and trade,” Cameron said.
Shortly after the meeting, Jonathan immediately left for the airport en-route to France to meet with the President of France, Mr. Francois Hollande.
In Paris , the president will confer with Hollande and French Government officials on the ongoing deployment of Nigerian troops to Mali to support the current military action against insurgents and terrorists in northern Mali.