President Emmanuel Macron of France and President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria
Nigeria and France yesterday signed three agreements worth $475m on social amenities and reforestation.
The agreements cover the Lagos State Urban Mobility Improvement Programme, sustainable water supply in the city of Kano and reforestation in Ogun.
President Muhammadu Buhari and the visiting French President Emmanuel Macron witnessed the signing of the agreements during their bilateral talks at the presidential villa in Abuja
The Lagos agreement included a letter of intent to finance the Urban Mobility Improvement Project through a loan of $ 200 million.
The Urban Mobility Project will involve the development of eight priority bus corridors linked to the Lagos transit system.
In Ogun, a French firm, in collaboration with the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority, is expected to mobilize about $200m in land reclamation from investors to correct the massive degradation of arable land in the state.
Gov. Ibikunle Amosun, who spoke on the signed agreement, said the project aimed to reforest 108,000 hectares of depleting forest in Ogun.
Amosun declared that the agreement was not only vital to addressing the challenges of climate change and recreate the forest, but also provide jobs to the people of the state, among other benefits.
France, through its foreign development agency, Whence Francaise de Development (AFD), will also extend a $75m credit facility to improve water supplies in the city of Kano.
The concessional loan is expected to help the Kano state government to ensure that more city residents have access to clean water while improving the financial viability of the state water board to increase its revenue.
Speaking to reporters after the signing of the agreements, Buhari and Macron, who spoke at a joint press conference on the forecourt of the presidential villa, expressed the willingness of their countries to continue to promote socio-economic interests in the general interest for both countries.
The two presidents pledged to strengthen cooperation between Nigeria and France in the fight against security problems caused by Boko Haram and ISIS jihadists in Nigeria and the Sahel region of Africa.
Macron said he was more concerned about how African governments organised themselves to effectively tackle the challenges posed by terrorists on the continent.
He said: “The main plan is an African plan and France is not the one to solve or fix African situations.
“So what we want to do is that we will intervene and maintain our presence in Africa and Sahel to fight against terrorism, especially in Mali and in the region.
“What is important to me is how the different African governments organise themselves to fight against terrorism and get rid of these people and especially, jihadism. That is why I do promote the G5/Sahel Initiatives.
“As far as we are organised, Nigeria, Niger, Chad, and Cameroon is also very important, it is Boko Haram. I think first we have to increase the operations and the pressure against these jihadists.
“We can fix the situation in the coming months and obviously France will remain present in Africa for as long as they want it.’’
President Buhari thanked the French government for its support and assistance to Nigeria’s efforts in the fight against insurgency and violent extremism in the country and in the Sahel region.
He added that Nigeria has already cultivated a culture of friendship with all its neighbors to ensure security and political stability in the region.
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