As Nigeria, Germany sign agreements on agriculture, commerce
Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has reiterated his administration’s stance on illegal immigration, warning that those who continued to take the risk of going through the Sahara desert and the Mediterranean Sea were on their own.
President Buhari who disclosed that over 3,000 illegal migrants stranded in Libya had been repatriated back to the country, however, assured that those who run into trouble waters and want to return home would be repatriated back home and sent to their local government areas.
President Buhari said this during a joint press conference at the end of bilateral talks with the German Chancellor, Ms Angela Merkel, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Said he, “Firstly, I’m against those my countrymen and women that illegally travel to Europe. I believe you know the ECOWAS protocol encourages free movement of persons, goods and services.
“But for those going to Europe we are not, as an administration, agreeing with those who continue to defy the Sahara desert and the Mediterranean because they feel there are greener pastures there whether they are prepared for it or not. We do not support anything illegal and indiscipline.
“You must recall that about six weeks ago we repatriated about 3,000 Nigerians that were stuck in Libya on their way to Europe.
“You must have read in the papers and watch on the television the number of Nigerians lost in the Mediterranean. We have made it very clear that we do not support anything illegal and anybody who feels this country does not offer him what he should to be offered as a citizen and decides to defy the desert and the Mediterranean is doing it at his own risk.
“But if he is stuck somewhere in Libya between his final destination and Nigeria, we will rescue him and bring him back home and send him back to his local government.”
The German Chancellor, in her remarks earlier, described Nigeria as a ‘very important country in Africa’, hence the need to maintain a good and cordial relationship.
She commended Nigeria’s success in producing food needed in the country which necessitated the important cooperation in agriculture as well as manufacturing Volkswagen cars in Nigeria.
Merkel described Nigeria as an important trading partner in Africa and a young country that is very ambitious, disclosing that her discussions with President Buhari also centered on how to address the problems of migration by providing jobs.
The Chancellor, who spoke in German, also noted the security challenges Nigeria is facing and the achievements the Buhari administration has made in tackling Boko Haram.
She said currently, 12,000 Nigerians were studying in Germany through scholarships and that her government intended to increase that number.
She also thanked President Buhari for the country’s efforts to resolve issues within the region thereby maintaining peace in the region.
On the 2019 elections, Merkel said they both discussed the importance of free and fair elections which she said would Impact positively on the nation’s youths.
Meanwhile, Nigeria and Germany, on Friday, signed two Memoranda of Understanding in agriculture and commerce as part of the visit of Chancellor Angela Merkel to Nigeria.
The first agreement was signed between the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) and the German-Africa Business Association.
The First Deputy National President of NACCIMA, Hajia Saratu Iya Abubakar, signed on behalf of Nigeria, while Dr. Stefan Liebing, of German Africa Business Association, signed on behalf of the German Business Delegation.
The second agreement was signed between the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending, NIRSAL, and the PETKUS Technologie GmbH, a company that specializes in post-harvest agricultural value chain.
While the Managing Director of NIRSAL, Aliyu Abdulhameed, signed on behalf of Nigeria, the representative of PETKUS Technologies GmbH, Peter Huser, signed for the Germans.
Speaking after signing the MOUs, Nigeria’s Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, said the agreements would increase the collaboration between Nigeria and Germany in the two areas.
Enelamah said the agreements would also leverage small and medium enterprises in Nigeria.
Enelamah’s words, “We want our SMEs to learn from the German Experience and be as important. The other area of German excellence is the technical area; technical education, technical training and technical development. It’s also an area of great interest to Nigeria.
“We are also working with Germany in the automobile sector because that’s also an area where Germany is a leader and Nigeria clearly has a policy to be a leader in the auto sector in West Africa and Africa.”
He said all these would require high levels of engagement, collaboration and communication to be actualised.
Also speaking, Abdulhameed said the MOU signed between NIRSAL and PETKUS was borne out of the realization of the opportunities that exist for investments in the Nigerian agricultural sector under the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
He said, “Under the current administration and the present agricultural promotion policy of this government, there are ample opportunities for investors, in terms of technology and capital, to come to Nigeria and to invest in the agricultural sector.
“NIRSAL provides the risking environment and mechanisms to enable investors like PETKUS to come to Nigeria and do their business.”
According to him, the agreement would go a long way in reducing the 51.3metric tons of aggregate food production, equivalent of about US$9 billion, which the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), report says Nigeria loses annually.
He said PETKUS, which specialises in the post harvest segment of the agricultural value chain, would bring its expertise to bear on post harvest productions in Nigeria.
In his remarks, Huser said the interest of his company was to help small farmers boost their yield.
“We are not talking about big investments; we are talking about small holder farmers, where we like to help them to boost their yield, to get better yield; we are talking about plant production, we are talking about fertilisation.”
He said each machine supplied by PETKUS Technologie would provide employment and improve income for five persons and their families.
“We are talking today not about one machine; we are talking about one thousand machines and you can imagine the value this can bring into the agricultural sector,” he said.
He said the agreement was a step further in the interest of his company in Nigeria.