Russia-Ukraine war and global gas supply: Nigeria as `a buffer’
Russia-Ukraine war and global gas supply: Nigeria as `a buffer’
By Chijioke Okoronkwo, News Agency of Nigeria
The Russia and Ukraine standoff, vis a vis boycott of Russian gas has triggered significant disruptions and created a huge shortage in global gas supply chain.
Available data indicate that Russia is the world’s largest natural gas exporter; exporting 238 billion cubic meters in 2020 and accounting for about 45 per cent the EU’s imports in 2021.
It implies that any dislodgement in Russia’s gas supply would leave a deep crater which must be exploited by Nigeria, with natural gas reserve of 209.5 trillion cubic feet.
Perceptive stakeholders hold that the economic trump card of sanctions on Russia for Nigeria, as a ranking gas producing and exporting nation, is immense.
Expectedly, Nigeria is savouring the prospects of being a buffer and cashing in on the void.
President Muhammadu Buhari, while on a state visit to Portugal recently, indicated that Nigeria is ready to fill the natural gas gaps in Europe predicated by the current Russian-Ukrainian war.
Buhari said with over 200 million mainly young people, Nigeria was ready to be the hub of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA).
The president urged Portugal to consider Nigeria as a valued and trusted partner in Africa.
He identified key areas of cooperation and collaboration capable of moving both countries forward as oil and gas, tourism and hospitality industry, air travel, security and joint commission.
“At a time the world is going through turbulent times, we feel that a strong friendship and partnership between Nigeria and Portugal can act as a force for good.
“With the current Russian-Ukraine war, increased cooperation in oil and gas between the two countries has become vital to avoid crisis in the demand and supply chain, even as Nigeria is already a major supplier of gas to Portugal,’’ he said.
The president added that Nigeria and Portugal could cooperate closely on a range of agricultural and renewable energy projects.
To add some verve to Nigeria’s drive to reap from gap in the global gas supply chain, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) recently presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo approved for the NNPC to enter into agreement with ECOWAS for the construction of the Nigeria-Morocco Gas Pipeline.
Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, who made the disclosure, said that the project was still at the point of the front end engineering design, after which the cost would be determined.
The pipeline would traverse 15 West African countries to Morocco and Spain.
“The Ministry of Petroleum Resources presented three memos to Council.
“The first memo, council approved for the NNPC Ltd to execute MoU with ECOWAS for the construction of the Nigeria-Morocco Gas Pipeline.
“This gas pipeline is to take gas to 15 West African countries and to Morocco and through Morocco to Spain and Europe.’’
The minister said that the council also approved the construction of a switch gear room and installation of power distribution cables and equipment for the Nigeria Oil and Gas Park in Ogbia, Bayelsa. The cost of the project was put at N3.8billion.
He said that the park was to support local manufacturing of components for the oil and gas industry.
Nigeria-Morocco Gas Pipeline was proposed in a December 2016 agreement between the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Moroccan Office National des Hydrocarbures et des Mines (National Board of Hydrocarbons and Mines) (ONHYM).
The pipeline would connect Nigerian gas to every coastal country in West Africa (Benin, Togo, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Gambia, Senegal and Mauritania), ending at Tangiers, Morocco, and Cádiz, Spain.
Sylva also elucidated on Nigeria’s readiness to offer its services as an alternative gas supplier to Europe when he received a delegation, led by Samuela Isopi, EU’s Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS.
He urged EU to increase investments in gas and hydrocarbons in Nigeria to be able to meet the bloc’s energy needs.
The minister implored the EU to encourage its oil and gas companies such as Shell, Eni, and Total Energies to scale up investments in the Nigerian gas sector.
“One of the things we warned against earlier was the speed with which the EU was taking away investments in fossil fuels.
“We warned that the speed was faster than they were developing renewable energy; you can see now that what we were warning against is what is happening now.”
He told the delegation that what stunted growth in the development of gas in Nigeria was fresh investments, and called for a change of attitude on the part of the EU, if its requests to increase supplies to Europe would be realised.
The minister said that one of the biggest challenges the sector faces was lack of investments.
“In the last 10 years, over 70 billion dollars worth of investments came to Africa, but sadly less than four billion dollars came to Nigeria.
“Surprisingly, we are the biggest in Africa; if we cannot attract investments to Nigeria, you know where we are heading.
“You have been our long time friend; as at today, our gas reserve is one of the biggest in the world; we have a proven gas reserve of 206 tcf and if we really focus on gas exploitation we can get up to 600 tcf.
“We are already building gas infrastructure such as the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) pipeline project, expected to take gas to Algeria, and the West Africa Gas Pipeline project designed to take gas to Morroco.”
The minister said that due to the Russia-Ukraine war, the EU must have a buffer or an alternative source of gas.
“We would like to be reliable partners to solve the energy problem in Europe and we can only achieve this by working together.
“It is only when investment in these areas is increased that Nigeria can meet that obligation,” he said.
Sharing similar sentiments, Sarah Anyanwu, Professor of Development, Department of Economics, University of Abuja, said it was ample opportunity for Nigeria to increase production.
Anyanwu said that Nigeria had surplus gas and called on the concerned authorities to up the ante.
“We have been talking on the issues of diversifying the economy; so, these are the areas apart from oil that government should cease the opportunity and key into.
“We have areas to explore and make more foreign exchange earnings.
“Not only Nigeria, OPEC countries should step up; that’s an opportunity for us to make more money from gas; it lies in increasing production.
“The glut globally is for our good. Nigeria should cease the opportunity; increase production and breakthrough from this mono-cultural economy,’’ she said.
Experts are of the submission that the diversification mantra has reverberated for many years; hence the urgent need for pragmatic steps.
They say that the interregnum in global gas supply presents a gaping opportunity for Nigeria to ramp up gas export and reap bountifully from a ready market.(NANFeatures)
** If used, please credit the writer as well as the News Agency of Nigeria
The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC Ltd.) started the new week with an assurance to its investors and stakeholders that the days of complacency were over.
The assurance came following the repositioning of the company to focus on profitability and value addition to its shareholders.
The of the NNPC, Malam Mele Kyari, gave the assurance at the opening ceremony of the 2022 edition of the Nigerian Oil and Gas (NOG) Conference and Exhibition which held at the International Conference Centre, Abuja.
Declaring the conference open, Kyari who was represented by NNPC Chief Financial Officer, Mr Umar Ajiya, called on operators in the nation’s oil and gas industry to focus more on gas development.
Kyari said emphasis should be on gas-to-power, gas-to-industry and gas-for-export projects and activities.
He explained that with the reality of the global energy transition and Nigeria’s commitment to use gas as its transition fuel, value now lies in gas development.
The NNPC also said that the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) had also provided ample incentives for investors in the gas sector.
Kyari urged delegates and exhibitors to use the opportunity provided by the conference to network and brainstorm on solutions to the challenges brought about by the global energy transition and the Russian-Ukraine war.
He also urged them to find better ways to maximise the potentials inherent in the nation’s abundant gas resources.AKK Gas Pipeline Project
In another development, an oil and gas sector pressure group, Women in PENGASSAN called for stiffer punishment for domestic and gender-based violence offenders to serve as deterrence.
The call became important following the increasing wave of domestic and gender-based violence across the country.
The group made the call at the grand finale of its nationwide advocacy programme tagged: “PENGASSAN Women Say No to -Based Violence” which held in Abuja.
Speaking during an awareness march from the Unity Fountain to the Ministry of Women Affairs in Abuja, the Chairperson of the group, Faith Usoro, said tougher punishment for perpetrators of domestic and gender-based violence was the only way to stem the tide of the crime as desperate situations required desperate remedies.
Receiving the group on behalf of the Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Pauline Tallen, the Director, Economic Services, of the Ministry, Mr Idris Mohammed, said the Ministry was working with stakeholders to enact more laws to protect the rights of women.
Tallen said that even the Bills that were earlier thrown out by the legislature would be revisited.
The Minister listed some of the measures put in place by the ministry to curb domestic and gender-based violence to include, “one, launch of sexual offenders’ register aimed at naming and shaming.
“We have a contact line +234-8031230651 and +234-7053576528 for receiving complains.”
Mr Ifeatu Onejeme, Anambra State Commissioner for Finance, says that the state can only survive the current economic hardship experienced in the country through internally generated revenues (IGR).
Onejeme made the assertion during the ongoing 2022 Revised Budget defence before the state House of Assembly Committee on Finance and Appropriation, on Friday, in Awka.
He said that every successful country in the world succeeded from taxation and not from sale of commodities such as Nigeria exporting crude oil.
According to him, the monthly allocation of about N4 billion to N4.2 billion from the Federal Government is not enough to cater for the needs of the state.
“By the time you take out salaries, overheads and subventions to institutions from the federal allocation, what is left is very minimal and so, Anambra can only survive through IGR.
“This is why the initiatives to drive the revised budget have been captured under the state’s Internal Revenue Service because we have adopted a strategy to consolidate revenue collection.
“The era of revenue windows in ministries, departments and agencies has come to an end. There are digital platforms that are being introduced such as registration for transport operators.
“This is all to make sure that revenues are now centrally and digitally collected to reduce leakages,” he said.
Onejeme said that Anambra had IGR potential that should be explored to develop the state.
“The Electronic Money Transfer levy captured in transactions in banks and financial institutions, you will find out that Anambra is number four in Nigeria, in terms of generation, after Lagos, Abuja and Rivers.
“If you also go to the telecommunications, and check the average revenue per user for their phone lines, you will find out that Anambra is second or third, after Lagos.
“So, it tells us that in Anambra State, there is massive IGR potential but the problem has been leakages and IGR warlords, ” he said.
On the current economic situation, the commissioner said that the country can not sustain itself at the current debt levels and the issue with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
He said that reports from the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee, showed that NNPC had not remitted any fund to the federation account this year.
According to him, it means that Nigeria is surviving without any receipts of proceeds from the sale of crude oil and this has significant implications.
“Not only has NNPC not brought money, it has as well been utilising the funds that they should have remitted for taxes and royalties to the federation account to subsidise petrol importation.
“So, there is something really going on that should alarm and keep all Nigerians awake. We have all been boxed into a corner in this country economically.
“Any state that is proactive must start digging in now to be able to survive the negative impacts of what is going on the country.
“As a state under the federation, we have to plan on how to survive and that has been driving the revised budget estimate to achieve the manifestoes of Gov. Charles Soludo as well as the Vision 2070 for the state, ” he said.
The commissioner said that the state government would start to front-load infrastructure investment for economic expansion as well as
credit rating to raise money either in the international or local market for the state
Reacting, Mr Obinna Emeneka, lawmaker representing Anambra East Constituency and Chairman, House Committee on Finance and Appropriation, commended the ministries for the initiative to block revenue leakages in the state.
Many passengers travelling to Ilorin and other cities for Salah festival were seen at different motor parks in Ijora, Lagos on Thursday.The News Agency of Nigeria correspondent who visited the parks reports that many of the passengers said they had been waiting for long to board vehicles.The passengers and some commercial vehicle operators attributed the situation to delays caused by roads being rehabilitated across the country.One of the passengers at KASMAG Transport, Mr Isa Ajadi, said he had been waiting at the park since 5:00a.m.He said that it was doubtful if he would get a vehicle to Ilorin.Ajadi said that some buses that left on Tuesday arrived on Wednesday.A passenger at Emirate Transport Ltd., Mrs Sidikat Ayuba, said the fare on Tuesday ranged from N4,000 to N6,000.Another passenger, who was with her four children, Alhaja Fausat Lamidi, said they had been around since 5:00.a:m. and were still waiting.She said that she would not go back home, and that would sleep in the park with her children until they boarded a bus to Ilorin.A 75-year-old man, Alhaji Musa Lasisi, said that although fares usually increased during Sallah, he had never experienced a such a difficult situation.The Secretary, Joint Progressive Transport Service Ltd., Ijora Crossway, Alhaji Lukmon Adeyeye, said their drivers encountered heavy traffic at Berger, Ogere, Ibadan and on Ilorin axis, from Oyo to Ogbomosho.“Along Ilorin area, there was flood on the highway which caused a lot of traffic and also damaged vehicles and delayed the drivers.“Passenger traffic has increased due to the Sallah festivals. Fuel is very scarce and the roads are not in good condition due to ongoing road rehabilitations.“Passengers are stranded because those buses loaded from Ilorin were hooked in the traffic and the same applied to those buses leaving Lagos for Ilorin.“A journey that takes between four to five hours to Ilorin now extends to 10 to 12 hours per trip due to bad roads,” Adeyeye said.He said that fuel was easier to purchase before Sallah.Adeyeye pleaded with the government to ensure that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) provides sufficient fuel.He said that if fuel was available, the cost of travelling would reduce because less time would be spent at filling stations.Adeyeye said that before now the fare was N3,000 from Lagos to Ilorin, adding that due to those factors mentioned, the fare had increased to N5,000.He urged the government to rehabilitate roads at night to enable travellers get to their destinations without much stress. (www.nanews.ng)
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Candidate, Atiku Abubakar, on Wednesday mourned Muhammad Barkindo, outgoing Secretary-General, Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
Abubakar in his Twitter handle on Wednesday, said he was saddened by the passing away of the former Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC), who died in Nigeria on Tuesday at age 63 years.
Abubakar described Barkindo as “a worthy ambassador of Nigeria, who left indelible marks in his service to the nation and OPEC.
“He was indeed a worthy ambassador of Nigeria.
“He died in active service, having delivered a speech at the ongoing Nigerian Oil and Gas Conference in Abuja and held a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari hours before his passing away.
“He was my very good friend, and he will be surely missed.”
Abubakar condoled with the family and friends of Barkindo, management and staff of NNPC and OPEC.
He prayed that Allah forgives his sins and grants him Aljannah Firdaus.
An indigenous oil and gas company, ND Western Ltd., says it is getting ready to take the Final Investment Decision (FID) on its 10,000 barrels per day refinery in Uturogu, Delta State.Mr Eberechukwu Oji, the Managing Director, ND Western Ltd., made the disclosure while speaking with newsmen on the sidelines of the 2022 Nigeria Oil and Gas conference and exhibition on Wednesday in Abuja.Oji said the Front End Engineering Design for the project which was a Joint Venture with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had been completed.“We’re getting ready for the FID. Now you have to understand that before you take FID on a project, a number of things needs to be ready,” he said.He said issues such as finance and off takers of the refined petroleum products must be addressed before the board approves the FID.On gas development in Nigeria, Oji called on the Federal Government to work with the private sector in transforming Nigeria into an industrialised country through its abundant natural gas resources.He said: “I think that we have the opportunity to do so with gas because gas have a lot of options around it and gas solves some of the problems that we spoke about in the panel.“So today, crude oil pipelines get tapped into and get disrupted but the gas pipelines are not being tapped into just because of the nature of gas.“It does make sense that the government should invest to take gas to all the industrial hubs in Nigeria.“The Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) pipeline is an excellent gas project to take gas to the north, but if you think about it, there’s already demand centres in the east for which the government needs to support putting gas pipelines toward that axis.“It is absolutely important that for Nigeria to industrialise, we have to utilise the resources we have which is gas and make it available to all the capital cities in the country.NewsSourceCredit: NAN
The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva on Wednesday mourned the demise of the outgoing OPEC Secretary General, Dr Mohammed Barkindo.The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Barkindo passed on in Abuja on Tuesday at the age of 63.“OPEC Secretary General, Mohammed Barkindo, passed away yesterday in his home country Nigeria.“He was the much-loved leader of the OPEC Secretariat and his passing is a profound loss to the entire OPEC Family, the oil industry and the international community,” OPEC said in a statement issued on its official Twitter page.Also, Sylva said Nigeria has been thrown into mourning over the passing of Barkindo.“This is a great loss to Nigeria, to OPEC, to the energy sector and most compassionately to his family which we have in our prayers and thoughts,” he said.Also, Mr Mele Kyari, Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) said the OPEC boss who was in Nigeria to participate at the ongoing Nigerian Oil and Gas Conference in Abuja died at about 11.00p.m.“Certainly a great loss to his immediate family, the NNPC, our country Nigeria, the OPEC and the global energy community.“Burial arrangements will be announced shortly,” Kyari said.Mr Chinedu Okoronkwo, President, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), said Barkindo distinguished himself as a global energy leader.“On behalf of IPMAN, I want to commiserate with OPEC, the Nigerian government and the oil and gas industry on the demise of the beloved OPEC secretary general.“I pray that God will grant his immediate family and the entire industry the fortitude to bear this great loss, “Okoronkwo said.
Dr Mohammed Barkindo, the Secretary-General, Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), is dead.
Mr Mele Kyari, the Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC), confirmed the development in a statement posted on his official Twitter page on Wednesday.
“We lost our esteemed Dr Mohammed S Barkindo. He died at about 11.00 p.m. on Tuesday.
“Certainly a great loss to his immediate family, the NNPC, our country Nigeria, the OPEC and the global energy community.
“Burial arrangements will be announced shortly,” Kyari said.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Barkindo, who is the outgoing OPEC secretary general, was in Nigeria where he delivered the Chairman keynote address at the ongoing Nigerian Oil and Gas Conference (NOG) in Abuja on Tuesday.
At his last official outing at the NOG, Barkindo was given a standing ovation by industry stakeholders for his outstanding contributions to the Nigerian and global oil and gas industry.
He had earlier in the day visited President Muhammadu Buhari in the Presidential Villa where he was hailed by the president for being a “worthy ambassador to Nigeria.”
Born on April 20,1959 in Yola, Adamawa, Barkindo served as the Secretary General of OPEC since Aug. 1, 2016 and would have bowed out on July 31, 2022 following the completion of his tenure.
He completed his Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, in 1981 and Masters of Business Administration degree from Washington University in 1991.
Prior to MBA, in 1988 he earned a PostGraduate Diploma in Petroleum Economics from Oxford University.
Also, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Federal University of Technology Yola.
Barkindo previously served as the acting Secretary-General in 2006 and represented Nigeria on OPEC’s Economic Commission Board from 1993 to 2008.
He also led the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation during 2009 to 2010 and headed Nigeria’s technical delegation to UN climate negotiations since 1991.
Barkindo will be replaced by Mr Haitham Al-Ghais, a veteran of the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC), as the organisation’s Secretary-General following his demise.
In a tribute to Barkindo on his contributions to the global energy industry, OPEC said he was instrumental in expanding the organisation’s historical efforts to support sustainable oil market stability.
“This was through enhanced dialogue and cooperation with many energy stakeholders, including the landmark Declaration of Cooperation (DoC) since its inception in December 2016.
“These efforts are widely cr
The President of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), Benedict Okey Oramah, will receive the inaugural African Person of the Year in Energy from the African Chamber of Energy during the African Energy Week (www.AECWeek.com) 2022 in Ciudad Cape in October.
The African Energy Person of the Year award recognizes a person who has been influential or prominent in the African energy industry during the year or who has championed Africa and its energy sector.
Dr. Oramah, a leading advocate for the continent and for a just African energy transition, is a natural choice for this award.
In an era when wealthy nations restrict funding for fossil fuels, Benedict Oramah has been doing his best to strengthen Africa's oil and gas industry. He understands that our oil and gas resources are still sorely needed to eradicate widespread energy poverty on our continent and create a path to a better economic future.
Oramah, who has a doctorate in agricultural economics, has been president and chairman of the board of directors of Afreximbank since 2015. Before beginning his career at Afreximbank in 1994, he was deputy manager of research at the Nigerian Export Bank. Oramah is a published author and a frequent speaker at trade finance conferences around the world. In May, he was named African Banker of the Year (for the second time) in recognition of his leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Oramah is tireless in his work on behalf of the continent. Under his direction, Afreximbank distributed more than $7 billion to African countries during the pandemic so they could meet the health needs of their people and address the devastating impact of COVID-19 on African economies. Not only that, Afreximbank guaranteed the acquisition of 400 million doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines, enough to vaccinate 30% of the continent's population."
Dr. Oramah works equally hard to empower African governments, businesses and communities to achieve a more stable and prosperous future. In his role as president of Afrexibank, he strives to de-risk transactions in Africa through medium and long-term guarantee programs and is an outspoken voice for increased intra-African trade.
Recognizing that Africa's energy sector still has an important role to play in building stronger and more resilient African countries, Dr. Oramah continues to find ways to support a strong African sector: a healthy mix of oil, gas and renewable sources. That became apparent in 2021, when Africa tried to convince the international community to respect the continent's priorities, a plea that seemed to fall on deaf ears.
During the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, more than 20 countries and financial institutions pledged to stop public funding of fossil fuel projects abroad. Foreign investment in African oil and gas projects was rapidly drying up, and we in the chamber felt that the only way forward was an African solution. We began calling for an African energy bank that would finance the continent's energy projects and allow African nations to transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy on their own schedule. Dr. Oramah immediately supported that idea.
That support helped pave the way for Afreximbank and the African Petroleum Producers Organization (APPO) to sign a memorandum of understanding in May 2022 and agree to collaborate on establishing an African Energy Transition Bank.
“These are challenging times in which we must strive to strike the right balance between the imperatives of mitigating climate change and the urgency of avoiding social disruption as a result of increasingly difficult economic and financial conditions in Africa,” said Dr. .Oramah at that time.
His cooperation with APPO was one of the many ways in which Dr. Oramah proved himself to be a true champion of the continent's energy sector.
Under Dr. Oramah's leadership, Afreximbank has repeatedly helped national oil companies obtain the financing they need. This year alone, Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited secured a $5 billion corporate finance commitment from Afreximbank, financing that will support major and much-needed investments in Nigeria's upstream sector.
Oramah has been the voice of reason during a critical time for Africa's energy sector. It has clearly stated that balance is the key to a just energy transition, one that brings the world closer to its net-zero ambitions while giving Africa the same opportunities to capitalize on its oil reserves that other countries have realized. . .
The African Chamber of Energy is proud to recognize Dr. Oramah, a champion of Africa and a role model for Africans.
Ten takeaways from State Visit to Portugal: Two Nations and the will for strategic partnership – Garba Shehu
TEN TAKEAWAYS FROM STATE VISIT TO PORTUGAL: TWO NATIONS AND THE WILL FOR STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP
By Garba Shehu
President Muhammadu Buhari’s State Visit to Lisbon, Portugal, Wednesday 28th June to 2nd July was a first class success story and this is measurable by outcomes, not least, the real determination of the two nations to engender a close relationship.
Many in Nigeria remember that historically, Portuguese sailors were the first in Europe (ahead of British) to have contact with the territory now called Nigeria, when a certain Explorer, Rui de Sequira visited the Lagos area in 1472, actually naming the area around the city as Lago de Curamo, which means Lake of Curamo (Curamo, recall Kuramo Lagoon, Kuramo Beach and Kuramo Hall at the famous Eko Hotel, Lagos).
Among the important things embedded in the vision of Nigeria’s role and place in the world , clearly laid by President Muhammadu Buhari, is the revival of important relationships that have suffered long neglect. In addition, he has a strong willingness to assume the leadership expected from Africa’s largest country in population and economy.
So herein lies the first importance of this visit.
One, there can be no better illustration of the larger strategic goal of the future of this relationship than the eight agreements and Memoranda Of Agreement, MOUs signed in the course of this visit.
These are the MOU on political consultations, diplomatic training, research and exchange of information and documentation; cooperation in the field of culture; in the field of women and girls development, empowerment and gender affairs; youths and in the area of sports.
At the very well attended Portugal and Nigeria Economic Forum with the chosen theme: “Expanding Investment and Trade Between Nigeria and Portugal,” two agreements also were signed, one between the Nigerian Investment Promotion Council and AICEP, its Portuguese equivalent and another between the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, NACCIMA and the similar body in Portugal.
Two, this visit achieved a desire for a strategic partnership to strengthen the work Nigeria has been praised for doing by all levels of Portuguese authority- President, Prime Minister, President of National Assembly and Mayor of Lisbon-which is her stabilizing role in West Africa and importantly for the hosts, the stability and support of the ex-Portuguese territories in the subregion, specifically Guinea Bissau and São Tomé and Principe. This is resonating very well with the Portuguese.
Three. Invariably linked to this is the convergence of strategic interests and the laying of a framework to strengthen security and cooperation between the two states.
Portugal which has an association with with its former territories in Africa, the equivalent of our own British Commonwealth made up of Angola and Cape Verde in addition to the two others states mentioned. They have troops deployed for safekeeping duty in West Africa. They have committed to support Nigeria in military training, the sharing of intelligence and in the war against terrorism.
Four. Nigeria and Portugal have equally identified a common interest and goal in the transatlantic gas pipeline for which our country needs investment and security. This is with a view to finding a market in Europe for the enormous gas resources available to us. After listening to a briefing on the pipeline by Mele Kyari, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, President Marcelo de Sousa was quick to show interest in the maritime mapping of the gas pipeline, instead of the Trans Saharan pathway which is equally an option. Portugal, says President Sousa has chosen for itself, the role of the spokesman and defender of African interests in the EU.
Nigerian LNG is important for Portugal especially at this time of the Russia-Ukraine war, and the regime of western sanctions imposed on the Russian supply of oil and gas.
With 60 percent of our LNG going to Portugal, meeting 30 percent of their energy needs, Portugal is today more energy secure than most of their Russia-dependent European neighbours. It is noteworthy that the Portuguese are very appreciative of the consistency and reliability of the gas from Nigeria, thanks of course to good management from NLNG.
Five. The Kano-Maradi railway line being constructed by a Portuguese company, Mota-Engil, is turning out to be a significant factor in the emerging relations between our countries.
Despite President Buhari’s emphasis at several speaking opportunities that the contractor met all requirements to beat others to get the job, the Portuguese authorities see it not only as a milestone in trade relations but also as a trailblazer and a precursor to the evolution of Nigeria as the gateway to the vast African market opened up by the African Continental Free Trade Area, AfCFTA.
President Sousa spoke about their wish for the entry into the Nigerian market of Portuguese companies, “not in 30s or 100, but in their thousands.”
Six, Portugal, which was a strong force in the UN recognition of Nigeria as one of five centres for vaccine production in Africa has determined to key into our health sector. They will come in. It’s a country with a very strong pharmaceutical economy.
Seven, in the choice of Jose Peseiro, the Portuguese coach of the Super Eagles, Nigeria struck yet another positive cord that resonates politically and diplomatically.
Even before the advent of coach Peseiro, there are more than 200 professional football players of Nigerian origin in Portugal.
Some of them were brought to a meeting with the President, coordinated by Chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), Hon Abike Dabiri-Erewa. Now, we have a commitment that the country famous for producing Ronaldo, and for its globally recognized football academy is opening up chances for our youth to train.
Eight, there is also a welcome plan to share the achievements of Portugal in the field of renewable energy. With 60 percent of their energy got from renewable sources, that country ranks among the world leaders, hoping to reach carbon neutrality by 2030.
For the Buhari administration, and hopefully for the succeeding ones, the attainment of set climate change objectives will continue as a priority. For our two countries, this will be a win-win.
Nine, we have now an MOU on political consultations, diplomatic training, research and exchange of information and documentation. This will see our two nations working hand in hand at multilateral institutions including the UN. Portugal prides herself with experience in international relations.
Ten. Lastly is the important thing about the very strong alignment of strategic interests of both countries. It’s rare to see this anywhere. The commitment to be with Nigeria is everywhere: All levels of authority in the country: President, Prime Minister, President of the National Assembly, and Mayor of Lisbon showing a total commitment to align with Nigeria. President Sousa in his second term said “I waited six years for this marriage.”
They honored him with that country’s highest national order.
For President Buhari, this visit is an affirmation of the norm that global aspirations must be accompanied by global engagements and a demonstration of his determination to turn commitments into actions.
Hopefully, these will lead to the acceleration of the nation’s economic growth, securing the country, attracting investment and creating jobs.
Garba Shehu is Senior Special Assistant to the President, Media and Publicity.