Nigeria and France yesterday signed a number of agreement s on projects worth $475 million.
The agreements were signed in Abuja after a meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and French President Emmanuel Macron at the Presidential Villa.
The meeting also took far-reaching decisions on security and the economy.
The agreements centre on French assistance to the tune of $475 million for some projects in Lagos, Kano and Ogun states.
The Lagos deal is a letter of intent for the financing of urban mobility improvement project via a loan of $200 million. This will involve development of eight priority bus corridors connected to the Lagos mass transit network.
In Ogun State, a French firm in conjunction with the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), will mobilise from investors about $200 million for land reclamation to correct the massive degradation of arable land being witnessed in the state.
The project will reforest 108,000 hectares of depleting forest in the state, a plan which Governor Ibikunle Amosun described as vital to addressing climate change challenges, recreating the forest, and providing employment, among other benefits.
France, through its foreign development agency, Whence Francaise de Development (AFD), will extend a credit facility of $75 million towards improving water supply in Kano city.
The concessional loan is expected to help Kano State government to provide drinking water for more people while improving the financial viability of the state water board.
Details of agreement include AFD to support the urban mobility improvement programme of Lagos State by financing the equivalent in $200 million.
This letter or intent is related to a potential loan by AFD to the federal government of Nigeria.
Buhari and Macron witnessed the signing of a letter of intent. It was signed by the Agence Francaise de Development (AFD) CEO, Mr. Remy Rioux, and Minister of Finance Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, in presence of the French Ambassador to Nigeria Mr. Denys Gauer.
At the joint news conference, Buhari said: “Our discussion is around security, especially in the Sahel, the economy of the region and how it can be successfully and politically integrated.
“What France is doing, we all know is trying to stabilise the region, especially in dealing with the G5.” he said
Recalling that on assumption of office, he visited neigbouring countries, Buhari added: “The best thing is to develop good relationship with your neighbors. It will cost you less in terms of materials needed for development and in this respect I am very grateful to France for the support we have been getting.
“The third one is the question of resources and our fighting of corruption… I’m very grateful to the French President for his understanding and commitment towards Nigeria and this region.” he said
Macron thanked President Buhari for welcoming him and his entourage to Nigeria.
He said: “It is very emotional for me to come back after 15 to 17 years, especially in Abuja. I spent few months; it was with a different President and in a very different context.
“Being in your country after visiting China, India…., this country is very important to France and very important to me. It’s also speaking about a country where its democratic experience is a great example in Africa.
“Your election in 2015 was one of the best examples of unexpected election where a lot of people thought everything was written before. Democracy is never written before. I’m a good example of that.
“And I do believe that next year will be an incredible occasion to deliver a consistent message to the world and the rest of Africa.”
“Our bilateral relation is obviously framed by security issues, our common fight against Boko Haram.
Our willingness is to help the four countries, working together against Boko Haram.” he said
He said he wanted France to be more present in the stabilization of the North and North East.
“That’s why we decided to invest $75 million for stabilization of the region.” he said
He said that he wanted tighter relations with Nigeria in sports and culture.
He insisted that giving the youths economic opportunities is the best way to give employment to the people.
On what plans he has to curb terrorism in Africa including curbing herdsmen and farmers crisis in Nigeria, he said “Well it is just that you have all these several issues correlated and your question is related to this event.
First of all I think 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 make our presence in Africa and Sahel to fight against terrorism especially in Mali and in the region. And we will stay as long as it is requested by our friends especially Mali we discussed yesterday about this issue.