14 May 2016. Official visit of President Hollande and Regional Security Summit
A very successful visit, which in the context of the success against Boko Haram and the now good cooperation between Nigeria and its neighbors, devoted France as a major security partner of Abuja. Rise also of the French Development Agency (AFD) for lending activities.
President of the Republic made an official visit to Abuja, with the Minister of Defense Jean-Yves Le Drian, before attending the Regional Security Summit.
The morning of May 14 was devoted to bilateral part of the visit, and the afternoon to the summit, where President Holland was the only Western Head of State and which was following the Paris Summit of May 2014.
1. THE BILATERAL MEETING
After the military honors that gave this visit its official status, the two leaders met face to face for an hour. Bilateral issues and regional security were reviewed. President Buhari was satisfied with the progress made in the fight against Boko Haram, and confident in the possibility of eradicating the terrorist sect through the further cooperation between regional armed forces and partners support.
The two Heads of State then chaired an enlarged meeting, attended by the Chief of Staff of the President, Abba Kyari, Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Finance, Science and Technology, and the National Security Adviser.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, presented the progress made in the bilateral relationship in recent times, especially since the official visit of President Buhari in Paris in September 2015. He evoked the increased French investments in various sectors of the Nigerian economy. He especially thanked President Hollande for France’s commitment in the fight against international terrorism and for taking the initiative of organizing in Paris in May 2014, the first regional summit for security, which allowed successes against Boko Haram and whose the Abuja meeting took afterwards.
Mr Le Drian then reported on his visit to Abuja on 28 April and the first meeting of the High Defence Committee, whose creation was decided by the two Presidents in September 2015.
He could deepen with his counterpart, General Dan Ali, the strategic dialogue on the problems of the Lake Chad Basin as well as piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. Important decisions were taken about cooperation matters (continued support to the FMM, many training actions in favor of the Nigerian armed forces, support for better use of intelligence, joint reflection on the equipment of forces, establishment of two military advisors). The two Ministers had also signed a letter of intent which should result in the forthcoming signing of an intergovernmental agreement. Mr Le Drian stressed the importance of this agreement, which will facilitate our future cooperation. He also reiterated the importance of Yaoundé process, so that regional cooperation would restore security in the Gulf of Guinea also.
The two leaders also chaired the signing ceremony of 5 agreements:
|► An agreement on cultural cooperation, science and technology, modernizing our previous agreement and signed by the Nigerian Foreign Minister and the Ambassador of France.|
► A memorandum of understanding between the AFD and the Nigerian Ministry of Finance laying down the framework for the expansion of concessional lending activities of the AFD in three areas: energy, urban infrastructure, SMEs and agriculture. Signatories: Nigerian Finance Minister and Executive Director of AFD operations.
► A loan agreement (46.2 MUSD) between AFD and the Nigerian government to develop vocational training in the power sector. Signatories: The Nigerian Minister of Finance and the Executive Director of AFD operations.
► A loan agreement (MUSD 100) between AFD and Zenith Bank. The objective is to enable Zenith Bank to grant more favorable loans to power distribution companies (Discos). Signatories: President of Zenith Bank, Jim Ovia, and Executive Director of AFD operations.
► A joint venture agreement between Dansa Food (Dangote Group) and the French company Nutriset to produce in Nigeria specialty foods to fight against ill-nutrition. Signatories: Mr. Sani Dangote, executive director of Dangote Group and Isabelle Lescanne, CEO of Onyx Development.
2. REGIONAL SECURITY SUMMIT.
Our action was highlighted by all participants.
The president recalled the background before the Paris summit in May 2014: Boko Haram controlled cities, massacring people and forcing them to flee to neighboring countries. The Chibok Girls had just been kidnapped.
The Paris summit made possible to set up regional coordination for military interventions and intelligence sharing (FMM, RIFU, CCL ..). Two years later, progress was remarkable: Boko Haram, the deadliest terrorist group in the world, even before Daech, lost its control on almost all its territory. Partners had to go on and stand together against the insurgency, which was still a threat, although weakened. France had provided logistical support for intelligence, weapons and training. She had also spent € 17 million in humanitarian aid to the region to cope with the situation: 2.5 million displaced persons, 200,000 refugees, 4.5 million people in food insecurity. The international community had to take concrete action to rebuild health centers and water points, also focus on education and youth. The President recalled the commitments made about the Lake Chad during the COP21 and the AFD support in this area.
The president Buhari praised President Hollande as "a friend of Africa". Other Heads of State have each in turn stressed how the Paris Summit in 2014 had changed the situation. They thanked France for her efforts to bring peace in Nigeria and elsewhere in West and Central Africa.
Read the communiqué of the summit (in French):
Find hereunder the public interventions of President Hollande (in French):
|► Texte de la conférence de presse à l’issue de la rencontre avec Muhammadu Buhari: |