By Chinyere Amalu
THE European Union Delegation to Nigeria yesterday announced that it had set aside 80 million Euros (N16.4 billion)Â to support local government councils in the Niger Delta with a view to aiding development of the region.
Acting Head of Delegation of European Commission to Nigeria, Dr. Denis Thieulin, who announced the offer during a briefing at the inauguration of Swedish presidency of EU, said the gesture became necessary because local governments wereÂ very important because of its closeness to communities and grassroot people.
He said the offer was also aimed at supporting efforts made by the Federal Government to restore peace in the region.
He explained further that, â€œfor each project there would be specific focus on that area, like when we are financing streets project, we will focus on them or when we want to support competitiveness in non-oil sector.â€
According to him, it is important for Nigeria to resume diversifying of the region and stop relying on oil economy only.
He added, â€œwe plan to start dialogue on energy between EU and Nigeria.”
specific dialogue on energy was the outcome of the just-concluded Nigeria-EU Ministerial Troika meeting held in Pragueâ€.
Thieulin added that EU will also assist Nigeria in climate change and migration is also under dialogue with Nigeria authorities.
The Swedish Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Per Lindgarde in his remarks stated that presiding over the EU is an ambitious global actor. Africa according is at the centre stage of EU and Swedish foreign action, and Nigeria is regional power and key African partner to EU. We look forward to cooperate closely with Nigeria, not least to reach a new global climate agreement at the Copenhagen conference in Decemberâ€.
He said the Swedish Presidency agenda for Africa is aimed at addressing various cross-cutting and specific issues, adoption to climate change, crisis management and peacekeeping, good governance and human rights, poverty alleviation, cushioning of the effects of the financial and economical downturn, regional and continental integration, and conclusion of comprehensive economic partnership agreements.
â€œWe are enthused to contribute to fostering the relations between EU and Nigeria and it is very gratifying to build on the recent agreement to intensify the political dialogue between us. Partnering with Nigeria will contribute to help the EU in achieving it foreign relations targets set for Africaâ€, he said. Adding, â€œwe need Nigeria in this endeavourâ€.