Russian-Ukraine War: Buhari Wants Increased Cooperation Between Nigeria, Portugal in Oil, Gas
Deji Elumoye in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has said with the ongoing Russian-Ukraine war increased cooperation in oil and gas between Nigeria and Portugal had become vital to avoid crisis in the demand and supply chain.
While stressing that Nigeria was already a major supplier of gas to Portugal, he indicated Nigeria’s preparedness to fill the natural gas gaps in Europe predicated by the Russian-Ukrainian war.
He also said with over 200 million mainly young people, Nigeria was ready to be the hub of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA).
Speaking yesterday on areas of cooperation between Nigeria and Portugal delivered at the Presidential Palace in Lisbon, Buhari urged Portugal to consider Nigeria as a valued and trusted partner in Africa.
The Nigerian leader identified five key areas of cooperation and collaboration capable of moving 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 areas of cooperation and collaboration to include oil and gas, tourism and hospitality industry, air travel, security and joint commission.
On tourism and hospitality industry, Buhari explained that Nigeria had huge potential in the sector and would like to benefit from the enormous expertise of his hosts in this area as shown in Portugal becoming a prime tourist destination.
Commenting on air travel, the President emphasised the need to sign a Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) and quickly establish a direct air link between the two countries.
He noted that cooperation between the two counties in this area was vital for increased trade and investment, tourism promotion, people-to-people contact as well as social and cultural engagement.
Emphasising Nigeria’s renewed commitment towards the fight against terrorism in the Lake Chad and the Sahel Region, the President told his Portuguese counterpart that Nigeria would welcome the support of the Portuguese Government through intelligence and information sharing, weapons and training of security personnel of member states.
Buhari also stressed the need to establish a Joint Commission, saying: ‘‘We believe that the establishment of a Joint Commission will help to promote the full realisation of the objectives of our bilateral relations.
“The Commission would facilitate the institutionalisation of cooperation mechanisms and permit the elaboration and implementation of concrete, specific and viable projects and programmes for the benefit of our people.’’
He added that Nigeria and Portugal could cooperate closely on a range of agricultural and renewable energy projects.
The two countries have also expressed determination to take relations to a whole new level with concrete deliverables, emphasising the need for stronger ties 46 years after the establishment of diplomatic relations.
Buhari gave the indication in Lisbon, at a joint press conference with President Marcela Rebelo de Sousa of Portugal.
The Nigerian leader told the press after a one-on-one meeting with his Portuguese counterpart and an enlarged meeting between delegations that in spite of the existing cordial relations between the two countries, there was a need for greater collaboration.
Buhari, therefore, declared that as many as 10 agreements and Memoranda of Understanding are being prepared for signing during his State visit to the European country.
These, he said, include: ‘‘The Establishment of an Atlantic Research Centre; Air travel; Political Consultations; Diplomatic Training; Cultural Cooperation; Investment Promotion; Chambers of Commerce Cooperation; Women and Child Development; Youth and Sports Development and Digital Economy Cooperation.
‘‘The world is at a crossroads. The decisions we take as leaders could make or break the world as we know it.
‘‘We face existential challenges with climate change, food insecurity, conflict, health, and energy, among others.
‘‘We look to Portugal as an influential country and partner to play an important role in helping to pull the world back from the brink.’’
President Buhari thanked his Portuguese counterpart for the role his government played during his tenure as President of the European Union, in securing EU and International Monetary Union financial support for Africa.
Highlighting that year 2022 marked the 46th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, the Nigerian leader said: ‘‘We are delighted that we can count Portugal as a valued and reliable friend and partner.
‘‘We share the same democratic values and look to increase and broaden cooperation in various fields at the bilateral and multilateral levels.’’
The President added that there will be a Nigeria-Portugal Business and Investment Forum with the participation of over 80 representatives from Nigerian public and private sector companies, agencies and organisations.