Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, has said the visit of French President Emmanuel Macron, will boost the fight against insurgency in the country and the nation’s economy.
Onyeama said Macron’s visit will assist in getting greater United Nations (UN) financial involvement in the fight against insurgency in the Sahel.
He added that new French investment in the country, particularly in Ogun state, will create 150,000 jobs in the country.
Speaking at the Presidential Wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, Onyeama further said Macron’s visit will increase ties and strengthen trade and cultural relations between France and Nigeria.
Onyeama added that the visit is historical as it marks the first formal meeting between Macron and President Muhammadu Buhari.
“So, we hope that it will also help to reinforce the French support in the security area. So, really, security, trade and cultural ties,” Onyeama said.
On what is new in the fight against insurgency on the part of France, Onyeama said France is involved in the fight against insurgency with five African countries known as the G5 Sahel and centred around Mali, dealing with Al-Qaeda in the Sahel and other terrorists groups in the Sahel.
“They are also going to be looking at the complementarity of the two security groups; that is, the G5 in the Sahel and of course, the Multinational Joint Task Force that we have, fighting Boko Haram and how those two can work together, share intelligence and other support,” Onyeama added.
Onyeama further said the issue of funding in the fight against insurgency is also of concern.
He added that the French government is assisting in that regard, looking for greater United Nations’ financial involvement in the process.
“And of course, this is a big challenge. Some of the big contributors to the UN are not so keen for the UN to be so involved financially.
“We are looking also to the support of the French in getting the United Nations to help. So, that is what they are bringing, that we have a strong ally in the demand for greater UN financial involvement in tackling terrorism in the West African Sahel region,” Onyeama disclosed.
On the economic front, Onyeama said France is one of the big investors in the country.
Onyeama also said looking at more French investment in the country, President Buhari will let Macron know that Nigeria is very much ready for business and that not withstanding a lot of the challenges that the nation is facing, Nigeria is still very good and attractive place for business.
“In this context there is going to be an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) signed with French Energy and Environmental companies. It is an environmental project in Ogun state.
The Ogun state government is going to be providing land and it is over a thousand hectares of land to be made available.
“It has been degraded, the deforestation that has taken place has been quite enormous. It is about seven percent now of what it used to be. So, this project is looking at reforestation.
We are also bringing industries in French know-how to bare in developing timber, pulp and other agricultural products that will in turn, create about 150,000 jobs.
“So, this is the real economic module that will hopefully be replicated in other parts of our country,” Onyeama said.