Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, has said that issues of security, de-radicalization of terrorists and infrastructure, were among issues discussed with the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria at a recent diplomatic engagement.
Onyeama disclosed this in Abuja when the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) decorated him with the Copyright Medal of Honour.
The visit which was at the instance of the Government of Algeria, according to Onyeama, was very keen to reinforce the relationship between Algeria and Nigeria.
Onyeama recalled the long relationship between both countries, saying that the pioneers of the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) were President Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria and former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Onyeama further said the Algeria-Nigeria diplomatic ties had really been the centre drive for greater African integration and greater role for Africa globally.
“So, they were very keen for us to recapture that, to build on that. What we agreed to do was in the framework for our cooperation which is a bi-national cooperation agreement that would be reset as it were and we are hoping to do that quickly and to have the next meeting of the bi-national commission.
“And we have indentified some very, very important areas in going forward. We also looked at our engagement with the international community and global issues like terrorism and reform of the African Union in particular and we have seen eye to eye on some of these major issues and we want to be in a position to drive the agenda on the continent,” Onyeama said.
Onyeama said a major issues highlighted during the visit was security.
“Security, obviously, was one. The Algerians, even before this global terrorism issue, have been fighting their own domestic terrorist’s war for a very long period of time. So, they have great experience and we were able to discuss strategies in fighting terrorism and also on the issue of de-radicalization,” Onyeama stated.
Infrastructure also took the center stage in the discussions, particularly the highway project from Lagos to Algiers which, the minister said, would completely revolutionize transport, in terms of goods as well for the country in accessing the European market.
“It is almost complete, there is just about 200 meters left in Chad. They managed to get funding for that from the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Islamic Development Bank; so it is in the process of being completed.
“Also, there is a fibre optic network for communications in the region. Again, that is Algeria-Nigeria and Benin. The road network is Algeria-Nigeria and Benin. So, those are very, very important projects.
“There is also a gas pipeline, the third project from Nigeria through to Algeria. That is still in the works as it were,” Onyeama concluded.