François Hollande hails "strong relationship" with Nigeria
Nigeria – Statements by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic, at his joint press conference with his Nigerian counterpart (excerpts)
Abuja, 14 May 2016
I confirm to you that we had a long one-to-one meeting, because we have a strong relationship between our two countries. I had the opportunity to signal the importance I attached to it during my visit in February 2014 for the centenary of the country’s creation. I also wanted – it was two years ago almost to the day – to convene a summit in Paris between Nigeria’s neighbouring countries, which together were facing the threat from Boko Haram, so that we could define a common strategy. When I welcomed President Buhari in September 2015, we again emphasized the importance of implementing this Paris plan, and this afternoon we’ll be holding a second summit, here in Abuja, both to take stock of the progress made in the past two years and to broaden our action further.
But the results are already impressive. Some very important points have been scored in the fight against Boko Haram. This terrorist group, which has committed massacres and is, sadly, continuing to carry out attacks targeting civilians, this terrorist group, which abducted girls from Chibok several months ago, this terrorist group has been driven back, weakened, forced to retreat. This terrorist group is being hunted down, has abandoned territories it controlled and has thus been further targeted. This terrorist group nevertheless still poses a threat.
These results have been achieved thanks to President Buhari’s determination, thanks to coordination between the actions of the countries in the region – we’re going to meet the heads of state of the neighbouring countries to define in greater detail the resources we must put in place – and also because France has shouldered its responsibilities, because France has supported – through intelligence, information, training and equipment – the actions taken by the Multinational Joint Task Force, and it’s this cohesion, this solidarity and this strategy that have enabled us to achieve the success we’re aware of.
With President Buhari, I wanted to give an additional sign of these closer ties between our two countries, through a letter of intent, which has been signed and which lays the groundwork for a defence agreement. We also wanted to discuss other issues and, in particular, sign agreements: cultural, scientific and technical agreements but also a development agreement with the AFD [French Development Agency], which is going to put in new resources. Let me remind you that Nigeria is the main beneficiary of the French Development Agency’s support and loans.
Many decisions and investments are being made by Nigerian and French businesses, and here in Nigeria, businesses like Total, Peugeot, Alstom, Thalès, Airbus and many I’ve forgotten have the firm intention of extending their investments further.
We’ve also signed an agreement on agriculture and nutrition, because we’re aware of Nigeria’s needs but also the ability of French holdings to meet them. (…)
We also had a discussion about the follow-up to COP21, because Nigeria played a very important role in the signature of the agreement and there’s a very specific project, namely the protection of Lake Chad. Financing funds have been envisaged at European level. It will also be possible to build on them with COP21-linked financing, and along with the countries in the region we intend to mobilize them very quickly to protect the environment, but also to provide work to a number of people living around Lake Chad so that their future can be protected. There’s another subject that will be discussed this afternoon – we’ll come back to it –, namely displaced people and refugees. There are two million refugees and displaced people, and it’s very important that we can both guarantee their return and enable development policies, particularly around Lake Chad.
I want to thank President Buhari once again for his welcome and his friendship to France./.