Nigeria, India sign MoU on diplomatic issues, prisoners swap, visa
Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday in Abuja welcomed plans by an Indian Business delegation to Nigeria to invest $5 billion in the Nigerian economy.
A statement by his Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said Buhari spoke while receiving the Indian Vice President, Mohammad Hamid Ansari, at the State House.
The statement said the business delegation that accompanied the Indian Vice President promised to invest $5 billion in addition to $10 billion already invested in the Nigerian economy.
Buhari said Nigeria would emulate the Asian country’s agricultural model and capacity to feed its 1 billion population, and also export to other countries, describing the country as “sustainable and prosperous.’’
He said Nigeria would continue to expand its relationship with India in the areas of health, education, agriculture, technology and trade.
Buhari said Nigeria had over the years benefited from the cooperation of the Asian country in trade and investment, agriculture, technology and the fight against terrorism.
The president noted that Nigeria would continue to support the reform of the United Nations Security Council, pointing out that it was unfair on the rest of the world for five countries to exercise power of ‘‘yes or no’’ in the UN.
In his remarks, the Indian Vice President said his country, which is the leading buyer of Nigeria’s crude oil, would increase its purchase of the commodity in addition to natural gas.
According to him, the relationship between Nigeria and India is near perfect as both countries ‘‘have nothing to quarrel about.’’
Meanwhile, Nigeria and India have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Product Standardisation and a Letter of Intent to conclude agreements on a number of diplomatic issues including customs cooperation, prisoner transfer, renewable energy and visa issues.
A statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande, said Nigeria’s Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mrs. Aishat Abubakar, signed the MoU for Nigeria while India’s Minister of State for Finance, Mr. Arjun Ram Meghwal signed for his country.
For the Letter of Intent, the Indian Ambassador Mr. B.N. Reddy signed for his country, while the Permanent Secretary, Foreign Affairs Ministry, Mr. Sola Enikanolaye signed for Nigeria.
Several ministers from Nigeria attended the bilateral meeting alongside the Indian delegation that included members of parliament.
Also, yesterday, Nigeria and India agreed to re activate the Nigeria-India Joint Commission earlier set up to foster deepened relationship and expanded economic interaction between the two countries.
The decision to reactivate the joint commission was the highlight of the bilateral meeting held yesterday at the Presidential Villa between the visiting Indian Vice President, M. Hamid Ansari and Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.
The Nigeria-India Joint Commission was set up in 1979. It was revived during former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration. It met last about five years ago.
The Indian Vice President said the “Joint Commission should be reactivated within the shortest possible time,” a call that was promptly consented to by Osinbajo who in reply said, “we agree that the commission which met last five years ago be reactivated.”
Osinbajo said the commission would provide a veritable way forward to work out the different areas of collaboration discussed at the close-door bilateral talks.
Issued discussed ranged from economic relations, peace and security, consular matters and regional and international issues.
Osinbajo stated that both countries should also focus on the outcome of the 3rd India-Africa Summit held last year.
He said that Nigeria would take an active part in the elaboration of the programme of action.
He also called for the setting up of a joint implementation committee to pursue the commitments of that summit.
Observing that India has recorded “remarkable advancement,” in science and technology, including in space research, Osinbajo added that Nigeria was committed to playing a more active role in the evolution of the International Solar Alliance launched by the Indian government last year with a view to benefiting from its operations for Nigeria’s own quest for alternative sources of energy.
In his own remarks, the Indian Vice President, who is also the head of the country’s upper legislative chamber-Rajya Sabha- (also known as the Council of States) said he was delighted to be in the “beautiful city of Abuja and congratulated the country on last year’s free and fair elections.
He said the Nigerian people “deserve praise for coming out to vote and ensuring that democratic values take root in Nigeria.”
Ansari commended President Muhammadu Buhari for effectively tackling the challenges of the country including Boko Haram.
He noted that the Nigerian government was taking steps to minimise the impact of the challenges.
“Our friendship is a source of great pride to us, our destinies are so inter-linked and we are confident that our discussions today will strengthen our strategic relationship,” he added