President Muhammadu Buhari's four-day state visit to Lisbon, the capital of Portugal will be of immense benefit to Nigerians and his administration, given that the new deals signed with the foreign nation yield the desired outcomes.
Ultimately, President Buhari's goal is to strengthen the age-long bond between Nigeria and Portugal which has been neglected over time and use the revived union to the federal government's advantage especially economically.
Below are some of the goodies this rekindled relationship will bring about:
1. Numerous signed MOUs
There can be no better illustration of the larger strategic goal of the future of this relationship than the eight agreements and Memoranda Of Agreement, MOUs signed in the course of this visit.
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These are the MOU on political consultations, diplomatic training, research and exchange of information and documentation; cooperation in the field of culture; in the field of women and girls development, empowerment, and gender affairs; youths and in the area of sports.
At the very well-attended Portugal and Nigeria Economic Forum with the chosen theme: “Expanding Investment and Trade Between Nigeria and Portugal,” two agreements also were signed, one between the Nigerian Investment Promotion Council and AICEP, its Portuguese equivalent, and another between the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, NACCIMA and the similar body in Portugal.
2. Stability and support of Guinea Bissau and São Tomé and Principe
Two, this visit achieved a desire for a strategic partnership to strengthen the work Nigeria has been praised for doing by all levels of Portuguese authority- President, Prime Minister, President of National Assembly and Mayor of Lisbon-which is her stabilizing role in West Africa and importantly for the hosts, the stability and support of the ex-Portuguese territories in the subregion, specifically Guinea Bissau and São Tomé and Principe. This is resonating very well with the Portuguese.
3. Fight against terrorrism
Invariably linked to this is the convergence of strategic interests and the laying of a framework to strengthen security and cooperation between the two states.
Portugal which has an association with its former territories in Africa, the equivalent of our own British Commonwealth made up of Angola and Cape Verde in addition to the two other states mentioned. They have troops deployed for safekeeping duty in West Africa. They have committed to support Nigeria in military training, the sharing of intelligence and in the war against terrorism.
4. Transatlantic gas pipeline
Nigeria and Portugal have equally identified a common interest and goal in the transatlantic gas pipeline for which our country needs investment and security. This is with a view to finding a market in Europe for the enormous gas resources available to us. After listening to a briefing on the pipeline by Mele Kyari, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, President Marcelo de Sousa was quick to show interest in the maritime mapping of the gas pipeline, instead of the Trans Saharan pathway which is equally an option. Portugal, says President Sousa has chosen for itself, the role of the spokesman and defender of African interests in the EU.
Nigerian LNG is important for Portugal, especially at this time of the Russia-Ukraine war, and the regime of western sanctions imposed on the Russian supply of oil and gas.
With 60 percent of our LNG going to Portugal, meeting 30 percent of their energy needs, Portugal is today more energy secure than most of their Russia-dependent European neighbours. It is noteworthy that the Portuguese are very appreciative of the consistency and reliability of the gas from Nigeria, thanks of course to good management from NLNG.
5. The Kano-Maradi railway
The Kano-Maradi railway line being constructed by a Portuguese company, Mota-Engil, is turning out to be a significant factor in the emerging relations between our countries.
Despite President Buhari's emphasis at several speaking opportunities that the contractor met all requirements to beat others to get the job, the Portuguese authorities see it not only as a milestone in trade relations but also as a trailblazer and a precursor to the evolution of Nigeria as the gateway to the vast African market opened up by the African Continental Free Trade Area, AfCFTA.
President Sousa spoke about their wish for the entry into the Nigerian market of Portuguese companies, “not in 30s or 100, but in their thousands.”
6 Big boost for health sector
Portugal, which was a strong force in the UN recognition of Nigeria as one of five centres for vaccine production in Africa has determined to key into our health sector. They will come in. It’s a country with a very strong pharmaceutical economy.
7. Sports (football)
In the choice of Jose Peseiro, the Portuguese coach of the Super Eagles, Nigeria struck yet another positive cord that resonates politically and diplomatically.
Even before the advent of coach Peseiro, there are more than 200 professional football players of Nigerian origin in Portugal.
Some of them were brought to a meeting with the President, coordinated by Chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), Hon Abike Dabiri-Erewa. Now, we have a commitment that the country famous for producing Ronaldo, and for its globally recognized football academy is opening up chances for our youth to train.
8. Renewable energy
There is also a welcome plan to share the achievements of Portugal in the field of renewable energy. With 60 percent of their energy got from renewable sources, that country ranks among the world leaders, hoping to reach carbon neutrality by 2030.
For the Buhari administration, and hopefully, for the succeeding ones, the attainment of set climate change objectives will continue as a priority. For our two countries, this will be a win-win.
9. International relations
Nigeria now has an MOU on political consultations, diplomatic training, research, and exchange of information and documentation. This will see the two nations working hand in hand at multilateral institutions including the UN. Portugal prides herself on experience in international relations.
10. Alignment of strategic interests
Lastly is the important thing about the very strong alignment of strategic interests of both countries. It’s rare to see this anywhere. The commitment to be with Nigeria is everywhere: All levels of authority in the country: President, Prime Minister, President of the National Assembly, and Mayor of Lisbon showing a total commitment to align with Nigeria. President Sousa in his second term said “I waited six years for this marriage.”
They honored him with that country’s highest national order.