Spain´s Consul-General to Nigeria, His Excellency Daniel Losada Millar, is a diplomat, whom as scion of a diplomat was born and raised in diplomatic circles. Thus gravitating towards  this unique service for his country is indeed well understood. Preparing himself for this role, he acquired a degree in Law and Economics before sitting for a special exam designed for entry into the diplomatic corps. 

He has been active in service since  2014 and was assigned to the Spanish Embassy in Afghanistan as a Counsellor (2015-2016), served in Iraq as Deputy Head of Mission (2016-2018) and in Mexico as First Secretary (2018-2021). 

Presently, he is in charge of the Spanish Consulate  in Lagos, which is like a homecoming for him as his father served Nigeria also as a diplomat and during that period, he visited on many occasions.

In this interview, he shares his past experience in Nigeria as a student visiting his parents, his work as a diplomat, and the relationship between both nations. Here are excerpts of the discussion.

On how he got into the diplomatic fraternity

I was fortunate from a very young age in that I knew what I wanted to do. My interest in international relations has to do with my family background and  I had wanted to represent the interests of my country abroad and also back home. I have always been clear about this, so I read law and economics, which  prepared me to take the diplomatic entry exams in Spain.

The exam is held once a year and I was fortunate to pass them at such a young age thus began my diplomatic career. I was posted to Afghanistan voluntarily as acting Deputy Head of Mission and spent six months there after the unfortunate attack on our embassy in 2015; returned to Madrid for a full month before going to Iraq. Quite challenging at the time, there was a significant Spanish presence in Iraq – I came in a year and a half into the fight against Daesh in the Northern part of Iraq – as we (Spain) played a key role in the training of Iraqi armed forces. From there I moved to Mexico, which was completely different in so many ways. Obviously Mexico and Spain have long-standing strong and rich economic and cultural ties. I was there for three years, then posted to Lagos, which has been like a home-coming of sorts. Reason being my family lived in Nigeria for five years. My father was posted to Abuja in 2006 and was there till 2011 and during that period I was able to travel to Nigeria on multiple occasions. Infact from Abuja, I travelled around the country extensively. So I got my first insight into Nigeria back then, made friends here and also had lots of Nigerian friends back in school in UK.

On the Nigerian experience: then and now:

As a university student visiting my family, my perspective was quite different and it was an opportunity to know a new country, then it enabled me to meet a people with great cultural diversity just like Spain’s.

I recall my first trip to Kano in 2006 was an incredible experience. Now, it’s different, I work here and my family visit me. I would like to travel and see more of the southwest of the country, which is the area I cover. Working in Nigeria is quite interesting like any country, it poses its challenges, but we share many values and I have friends here.

Since arriving, it has been great to know the city, meet people. Certainly, it has been like home and carrying out my job as Spanish Consul General here has been quite fulfilling and important – of course in conjunction with our embassy in Abuja . Our goal is to represent the nation of Spain as judiciously and progressively as is possible.

On a typical day:

There is no ordinary day, In the consulate, of course there are daily tasks to be met but our primary brief is to assist and protect citizens of Spain who reside in the south of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as well as the Republic of Benin. 

The consular services provided here are civil registration like registration of births, marriages and deaths, powers of attorney, legalizations, voluntary jurisdiction, issuance of documents and assistance in urgent cases. 

There are political assignments carried out here as well. And there remains a key culture component to our brief which unfortunately due to Covid-19 has been quiet for a while.  The consulate is also here to assist civil societies, young people and women. This is why I said what we do is different from day to day. That is the beauty of my job here in Nigeria.

On the relationship between Nigeria and Spain:

The relationship between our two countries has always been strong and progressive; for Spain Nigeria is a strategic partner, and this can be seen in the political, security and economic arenas.

The official visit of President Buhari to Madrid at the beginning of June during which he met with the King and the Prime Minister of our country is further proof of this.

President Buhari was also accompanied by six Ministers. Several Memoranda of Understanding and Agreements in different fields were signed and an economic forum was held.

In the coming years, we will seek to solidify the recent trend of exchange of visits and consolidate new areas for cooperation and high-level meetings.

This special relationship also reaches far beyond the official and is viewed in our respective societies as a true engine of mutual interaction. In this sense, the number of Nigerians living in Spain and of Spaniards living in Nigeria continues to grow at a steady rate, with very high levels of integration within our societies. Student and talent mobility is also growing. We are positive that these trends will continue.

On areas of opportunities that exist for Nigerians to do business in Spain:

The Spanish economy is open and dynamic, and according to the OECD FDI Regulatory Restrictiveness Index, we are one of the countries in the world with the least restrictive regulations for international investment. By doing business in Spain, Nigerians gain access to a large domestic and European market – obviously as a gateway to the EU as well as to Latin America. We are a strategic and highly internationalised gateway, as well as a platform for international business and investment opportunities: our tax system is advantageous to international companies. Spain is also a strategic transportation hub, with one of the largest networks of highways and freeways, the third most extensive high-speed network, home to two of Europe’s busiest airports and has the most important regasification terminals in Europe. Our logistics are amongst the most competitive and reliable in the world.

There are many areas of opportunities: agriculture and livestock products, transportation equipment, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, renewable energy and food and beverage processing sectors. Our chamber of commerce office in Lagos is in permanent contact with the Nigerian business community to provide reliable information on these and other opportunities. 

On the competitive advantages that Spanish companies can key into within Nigeria with its unique profile in Africa:

Our economic relations have reached important milestones, both in terms of trade and investment. Nigeria is the largest economy in Africa, with over 200 million domestic consumers, and is characterised by a policy of diversification enabled by the Government, as well as by the simplification of rules and regulations to help ease the flow of business.

These are some of the unique features which provide an incentive for Spanish companies to operate here. Furthermore, there are many sectors, not only energy, where our enterprises, along with their Nigerian counterparts can excel.

On what he foresees in the relationship between Spain and Nigeria in the future:

In the coming years, we will continue to be key political and economic partners, as well as close allies in our global security and defence strategies.

Nigeria is a global power in Africa, and a crucial player in ECOWAS, which we consider to be an excellent instrument for guaranteeing peace and development in the continent.

Our relationship in the next few years will enable both our countries to promote our values and protect our vital strategic interests, thus contributing to building models for effective global governance and economic progress and modernisation.

We live in a complex international sphere, at times uncertain and with unforeseeable dimensions. We need each other to overcome any obstacle that may arise. On what can be done to deepen bilateral ties between Nigeria & Spain in the short, mid and long term. We must continue to deepen and diversify our relations, so that they may reflect the richness of our bilateral ties. To this end, the Joint Declaration signed during the visit of President Buhari speaks of different areas we can yet develop: science & technology, education, digital economy, tourism, sport, language and culture. We will pursue an ambitious agenda with Nigeria. The sky is the limit.

To this end, we will strengthen bilateral contact with all echelons of the Nigerian administration, both at the federal and state levels. We can also create specific programmes tailored for these different areas mentioned in the Declaration. Examples may include programmes for talent mobility, implementing an agreement between the Nigerian Government and the “Instituto Cervantes” for the teaching and promotion of the Spanish language or establishing inter-ministerial and parliamentary working groups.

Currently, we are working to open our first lecture in Lagos, which will undoubtedly be a superb tool for promoting our language. Spanish is coming to town!

On a different note, in the coming years, we will also enhance security cooperation, especially concerning maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea, along with some of our EU partners.

On his thoughts on the upcoming Nigerian elections:

During the past few decades, since the adoption of the 1999 Constitution, Nigeria has projected itself toward the world with democratic self-confidence. In his recent letter commemorating Democracy Day, the President spoke of an evolving democracy. In my opinion, it is a fast-evolving democracy, with a bright future ahead.

In the current context, I would say that one of Nigeria’s greatest assets is its diverse and transparent political system, which integrates the plural nature of the country, composed of numerous communities with their own distinct identities. It is based on respect for the dignity of human beings, their basic rights and the rule of law.

I am therefore confident that the upcoming elections will be a festival of democracy for this great Nation.

On how he relaxes

we do relax, there are lots of art galleries, I have a lot of good friends in both the diplomatic and non-diplomatic cycles and we host activities in my house to promote Spanish food and drinks. We do find ways to relax.

On Nigeria meals he likes 

I really enjoy Nigerian food and am a regular at a handful of  Nigerian restaurants here in Lagos, I love spicy food having stayed in Mexico before; suya, chicken and fish pepper soup are favourites. 

On tourism

Spain is one of the tourist destinations in the world and lots of people do travel to Spain for tourism. Having the UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organisation) in Madrid is a big advantage. Nigeria’s embassy has been very active and there is cooperation in this area and there is more to be done.

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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.