By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA—President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday in Lisbon, Portugal, said Nigeria was ready to fill the natural gas gaps in Europe, a consequence of the Russian-Ukrainian war.
The President also said with over 200 million mainly young people, Nigeria was ready to be the hub of the African Continental Free Trade Area, AfCFTA.
In his statement 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.
He 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 as follows: oil and gas, tourism and hospitality industry, air travel, security and joint commission. On oil and gas, Buhari said with the current Russian-Ukraine war, increased cooperation in oil and gas between the two countries has become vital to avoid a crisis in the demand and supply chain, even as Nigeria is already a major supplier of gas to Portugal.
In the 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.
On-air travel, the President emphasized 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 is vital for increased trade and investment, tourism promotion, people-to-people contact as well as social and cultural engagement.
Affirming 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 realization of the objectives of our bilateral relations.
“The Commission would facilitate the institutionalization of cooperation mechanisms and permit the elaboration and implementation of concrete, specific and viable projects and programmes for the benefit of our people.”
The President added that Nigeria and Portugal could cooperate closely on a range of agricultural and renewable energy projects.