By Favour Nnabugwu
Less than a month after President Muhammadu Buhari visited France, Nigeria could begin to reap the fruits of that trip as the French government said it has bridged the divide between France and Nigeria.
French Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Denys Gaver, who led a delegation of 50 Heads of companies to the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) in Abuja on Monday, said that France has restored bi-lateral relationship with Nigeria.
Gaver said, “Nigeria is already the first trading partner for France in Africa, don’t forget that and we are exporting also to Nigeria worth $1.5 billion per year. So it is not so bad but it is true that we could do much more now.
“The political cooperation between France and Nigeria has developed very positively recently. We are helping to fight against Boko Haram in the north. We are encouraging neighbouring countries to work very closely with Nigeria, and we are working with the Nigerian Armed forces to fight terrorism.
“It is a real partnership that is developing between Nigeria and France in the political field and in the security field. It is true that we have to do more in the economic field therefore we have to attract more French companies to come to Nigeria to invest and establish partnership with Nigeria.”
Gaver promised to showcase the new Nigeria and its development to Francophone countries, “It is true that many French companies probably still have the vision of Nigeria of 20 years ago. So we have to update them on the real realities now of Nigeria.”
The companies comprising of Large, medium and small are also focusing in many opportunities of the Nigerian market including building, transportation, environment, energy, power, security, transport and sustainable cities.
Leader of the Head of companies, Mr Pierre Gattaz who is also the President of the Movement of the Enterprises of France (MEDEF), said Nigeria is a land of investments and development for French companies. Africa is our new frontier. “Nigeria is the largest economy and the largest population on the continent, the middle class is emerging in Nigeria, which demand new infrastructures, facilities and equipment, but also in services and leisure.”
Chairman of the delegation in Nigeria, Chief Audu Ogbe, former Minister of Mines and Steel Development assured the companies that Nigeria is correcting the mistakes of the past.
According to him, “We have a government that is determined to correct the mistakes of the past. No matter the challenge we are facing, the reality is far better that what we see or read in the media.”
While welcoming the companies to Nigeria, Executive Secretary of NIPC, Mrs. Uju Baba-Hassan told the companies that investment potentials are huge in Nigeria.
“The opportunities are huge, the profits are good and we have a government today that is determined to correct the mistakes of the past and to make sure things are done correctly.
“We have NIPC which is one stop shop and it is good to do business through them so that they can help guide you through the rules and regulations and make sure that the partners you are dealing with are people they can verify.”