Kemi Olaitan in Ibadan
The Oyo State government has signed a twin Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the French Government to promote a new healthcare initiative and the teaching of French language in the state.
Governor Seyi Makinde, who spoke after the signing of the MoU, held at Governor’s Office, Agodi, Ibadan, where the French government was represented by the French Ambassador to Nigeria, Mrs. Emmanuelle Blatmann, said the relationship would help the state in area of commerce, business, labour and education.
He explained that despite the popularity and wide usage of English in Nigeria, it was obvious that French remains a major language of international relations capable of boosting commerce, labour, growth and development.
The MoU is predicated on a €55 million loan granted by the French government to Oyo State and would be used for the upgrading of Adeoyo State Hospital and other general hospitals across the geopolitical zones of the state.
The governor while speaking at the MoU Signing ceremony, said, “We are here for a two-pronged engagement, and the entire state is excited because the first agreement, which is on the initiative for health care delivery in Oyo State, is heartwarming. “In 2019, I campaigned on four major pillars, which are health, education, security, and expansion of our economy. Now, the initiative is unfolding before us.
“Again, on the other side of the MoU, Education is also tied into a major pillar for us, which is crucial. So, we thank you for supporting us. Regarding the commercial agreement on the health care initiative, the Honourable Attorney-General already gave out the data on concessionary loans.
“This agreement we just signed, and we look forward to the agribusiness side of it. The AG has said the loan is in 40 years maturity, which will be a long journey. So, I really want to thank you for this on behalf of the people of Oyo State.
“People may wonder how we could get such a low-interest loan facility – 0.009. I don’t think we can have it better anywhere in the world.
“The second, which is the Memorandum of Understanding that promotes the French language in Oyo State, you will recall that in 2021, we acceded to the request by the French government to release funds for a block of four classrooms with an office building at the Centre for French Language. So, this is what we are building on.
“Recently, we also had the Emmanuel Alayande College of Education upgraded to a University of Education, which will be for training of teachers. We can leverage on that.
“Despite the popularity and wide usage of English in Nigeria and Oyo State, French is a major language of international relations.
“So, it is not out of place that we are signing an MoU to promote the French language in Oyo State. You will also help us with commerce, business, and labor.
“So, let me thank you, Ambassador and the team, for this visit. We hope you will come again as we continue to build on this mutually beneficial relationship.
“Two days ago, I was at Igbeti, and one of the requests they put before me was to upgrade the general hospital, and now that they are listening to me, it is going to be upgraded.
“I want to assure you that the next time you come to Oyo State, we will still be here because we know the people will give us four more years.”
Blatmann, in her remarks, revealed that the loan was the first in three decades from the French government to Nigeria, adding that it would help in the provision of quality healthcare, qualitative education and enhance globalisation.