December 1, 2023

In Portugal, President Buhari says Nigeria is ready to fill natural gas gaps in Europe amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

Gen Buhari Image Courtesy: Chatham House
Muhammadu Buhari at the Chatham House in London in April 2015. Image Courtesy: Chatham House

President Muhammadu Buhari declared on Thursday that Nigeria is ready to fill natural gas gaps in Europe amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Nigerian leader was speaking in Lisbon, Portugal.

The Nigerian President added that with over 200 million mainly young people, Nigeria is 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, President Buhari urged Portugal to consider Nigeria as a valued and trusted partner in Africa. 

The Nigerian leader 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, President Buhari said with the current Russian-Ukraine war, increased cooperation in oil and gas between the two countries has become vital to avoid crisis in the demand and supply chain, even as Nigeria is already a major supplier of gas to Portugal. 

On tourism and hospitality industry, President 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.

President 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.’’

Furthermore, the President added that Nigeria and Portugal can cooperate closely on a range of agricultural and renewable energy projects. 

‘‘Nigeria recognizes Portugal’s comparative advantages in the fields of renewable energy and pharmaceuticals which are also priority areas for Nigeria.

 ‘‘Other areas of cooperation which are of importance include; the Establishment of an Atlantic Research Centre; Political Consultations; Diplomatic Training; Cultural Cooperation; Investment Promotion; Chambers of Commerce Cooperation; Women and Child Development; Youth and Sports Development and Digital Economy Cooperation. 

‘‘That is why we look forward to signing Memoranda of Understanding and Cooperation Agreements in those areas,’’ he said.

Earlier at a ceremonial welcome at Praca do Imperio by the President of Portugal, President Buhari had laid a wreath at the tomb of Luis Vaz de Camoes, the national poet, at the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos. The Monastery of Jeronimos is one of the most decorative churches in Portugal. The body of the famous explorer, Vasco da Gama is interred in the lower chancel, just left of the entrance, opposite venerated 16th-century poet Luís Vaz de Camões, popularly perceived as Portugal’s Shakespeare. 

From the upper choir, there’s a superb view of the church; the rows of seats are Portugal’s first Renaissance woodcarvings. The President’s State Visit officially started from here, received by President  Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa featuring an impressive military parade and a guided tour of the Monastery. 

The Nigerian leader was also conferred with the Portuguese National Honour and decorated ‘Great Collar of the Order of Prince Henry.’  

Meanwhile, Nigeria and Portugal have expressed determination to take relations to a whole new level with concrete deliverables, emphasizing the need for stronger ties 46 years after the establishment of diplomatic relations. 

President Muhammadu Buhari gave the indication on Thursday in Lisbon, at a joint press conference with President Marcela Rebelo de Sousa of Portugal. 

The Nigerian leader told the press after a one-on-one meeting with his Portuguese counterpart and an enlarged meeting between delegations that in spite of the existing cordial relations between the two countries, there was a need for greater collaboration. 

President Buhari, therefore, declared that as many as ten agreements and Memoranda of Understanding are being prepared for signing during his State visit to the European country. 

These include: 

‘‘The Establishment of an Atlantic Research Centre; Air travel; Political Consultations; Diplomatic Training; Cultural Cooperation; Investment Promotion; Chambers of Commerce Cooperation; Women and Child Development; Youth and Sports Development and Digital Economy Cooperation.

‘‘The world is at a crossroads. The decisions we take as leaders could make or break the world as we know it. 

‘‘We face existential challenges with climate change, food insecurity, conflict, health, and energy among others. 

‘‘We look to Portugal as an influential country and partner to play an important role in helping to pull the world back from the brink.’’

President Buhari thanked the Portuguese leader for the role his government played during his tenure as President of the European Union, in securing EU and International Monetary Union financial support for Africa.

Highlighting that this year marks the 46th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, the Nigerian leader said: 

‘‘We are delighted that we can count Portugal as a valued and reliable friend and partner. 

‘‘We share the same democratic values and look to increase and broaden cooperation in various fields at the bilateral and multilateral levels.’’

The President added that there will be a Nigeria-Portugal Business and Investment Forum with the participation of over 80 representatives from Nigerian public and private sector companies, agencies and organizations. 

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