HomePolicyNigeria, Spain talk bilateral cooperation on economy, energy, security...

Nigeria, Spain talk bilateral cooperation on economy, energy, security as foreign minister visits VP, NNPCL

Nigeria and the Kingdom of Spain have strengthened the bilateral relations between both nations to tackle the menace of Boko Haram insecurity troubling Nigeria including addressing maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea.

This is as the federal government has urged European country to explore opportunities in the energy sector for a more robust relationship between both countries.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, made this call when he received the minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Spain, Mr. José Manuel Albares, on a courtesy visit.

The VP in a statement by his media aide, Laolu Akande said “the future, obviously is going to be interesting. For the next few years, we are going to be confronted with a challenging world. One of the issues will be energy. Both energy security and energy transition. These are two critical issues.

“There is no question at all that we must make alternative arrangements to assure energy security. And in our case, with the Climate Change agreement, we want to make sure that the transition from fossil fuels and other pollutants is as smooth as much as possible in the interest and development of our people.”

“Spain has been a very good friend of Nigeria. Aside from the economic connections, it has been the largest importer of our gas and the third-largest importer of crude oil.

The Spanish minister and his delegation also held separate meetings with the minister of state, Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva. In attendance were the group chief executive officer, Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited, Malam Mele Kyari, and other top management of the ministry and NNPCL

Speaking, Sylva said Spain has been a partner and customer of the Nigerian Liquified Natural Gas (NLNG) company from inception.

Sylva, who describe Spain as one of the first country to visit in 2023, said the visit could tell the importance of the relationship between the countries, adding that Nigeria required investments in the oil and gas sector,al< being the core of our economy.

He said the identified major investment companies and potential investors on the table, occasioned huge opportunities for Nigeria in view of the Nigeria Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) already pitched process of mini bid round.

“These are people that they would have ordinarily gone to meet in their country before any bid round, but in this case, the potential investors are here by themselves, so you can see why this meeting is very important.

In another meeting, Nigeria’s minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, who also hosted his Spanish Jose Manuel Albares Bueno counterpar, in Abuja yesterday, stressed the need for both countries deepen their partnership.

“Nigeria is one of the primary suppliers in the field of gas and petroleum to Spain and of course with the challenges that we are facing today globally, this is a very important relationship and we also want to diversify our economic cooperation. Spain is a big country and a big player in the European Union (EU) and globally. So, we want to see increased trade as we also seek to diversify away from fossil fuels and to deal and cooperate in other economic fields.

“We are particularly delighted as we speak about security, not just military security but also food security, and Spain is a huge investor in Africa’s agriculture sector and has some big companies in Nigeria, such as GB fruits and others   that are doing very important and very productive work with Nigeria in the agricultural sector.

So, we are delighted with the cooperation we are seeing in that area and also in the framework of the EU we are delighted with the cooperation that we have in addressing insurgency and terrorism in the Sahel and this part of Africa. We will continue to work with you and with the global community, the UN the EU to definitely address the security challenges that we are facing in our sub region and we really appreciate the support and cooperation of your country,” Onyeama said.

The minister added that President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent visit to Spain highlighted the importance of the highest level the two countries attached to the   bilateral relations even as the Nigerian leader engaged the King of Spain on issues of mutual benefits.

 The Spanish Minister in his earlier remarks said Nigeria is one of the great regional actors, the biggest economy in Africa and an absolute pillar of ECOWAS and Sub Saharan Africa.

He said “My visit is to give a new impetus to the relations that are already strong and has a milestone in the visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to Spain in which five MOUs were signed and three treaties on judicial cooperation. That visit was a success thanks to the efforts of the Minister of Foreign Affair of Nigeria. My visit today will harp upon several issues first of which is bilateral cooperation. We have been working very successfully concerning migration. Nigeria attended the high-level meeting on Regular and Work migration in September in the Spanish city of Malaga.

“Our economic cooperation is an absolute center of relations. Spain is one of the best clients of Nigeria in the world and very specifically we are the second client of Nigeria in the world. We have been one of the largest buyers of gas and petroleum for a long time and we want to continue strengthening that energy relationship and to foster it.

“But our bilateral relations are getting deeper and more aspects have been covered.  Security is a challenge to Nigeria and we want to offer our support for Nigeria in this rare challenge. We expressed our solidarity with Nigeria in the fight against terrorism, this is a threat that Spain knows very well because of our recent history. We commend the efforts of the Nigerian government to fight against violence and terrorism and at the same time we want to help Nigeria to address the root causes of these conflicts,” he added.

The Spanish minister also said both countries have excellent cooperation in maritime security, adding that Spanish fleet plays important roles in the fight against maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea since 2015.

“We are starting a new stage in our relations, it is an old relation that has very solid economic ties but now we are enlarging it and improving it for the benefits of our two people in many other fields,” he said.

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