Nigeria and France will continue to deepen the buoyant diplomatic, economic and military relationships between the two countries, even as both the Federal Government and the French Republic are now exploring new ways to confront and defeat the ideologies fueling terrorism.
This was the highlight of the bilateral meeting between Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and French Prime Minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, in Paris after the Vice President attended and spoke at the just concluded global forum on Anti-Corruption and Integrity hosted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, OECD.
While recalling the tremendous progress made by the Buhari administration in degrading Boko Haram and suppressing the insurgency significantly, Mr. Osinbajo explained to the French Prime Minister that the need to break the ideological underpinnings of terror is now important.
“One thing left for us to deal with is deradicalisation, defeating the ‘ideology’ behind the mindless killing and violence. This is now what we have to deal with, ” according to the Vice President.
Continuing, he observed that there is the view that some of the issues involved in the fueling of terrorism is governance related, and economic, but added that “it goes beyond that to ideological, and we are now focusing on the challenge, and on how to deal with it.”
The Vice President stated that the Federal Government would be happy to work with France, and others among its diplomatic partners who may also have to deal with such problems as the challenge of deradicalisation.
Mr. Osinbajo conveyed through the Prime Minister, the warm greetings of President Muhammadu Buhari to the French President Francois Hollande, noting the commitment and demonstrated support of the French President to Nigeria’s fight against Boko Haram, including on the issue of military purchases, and also French contributions against terrorism in the entire Sahel region.
According to the Vice President, “we are thankful for the work you are doing with Nigeria. President Hollande has been to Nigeria twice and his support against terrorism in the countries in the region is by words and action, showing that the French is committed and standing side by side with us.”
He added that “generally, the stemming of the spread of terrorism in the Sahel is much due to French’s role, and we thankful for that contribution.”
In his own remarks, Prime Minister Cazeneuve recalled recent terror attacks in France, saying “we know the consequences of terror attacks on populations. We are aware of the problem and we know it cannot be solved by countries working alone.”
He also noted that the French government has a process of deradicalisation, involving teams working with families, stressing however that “it’s a very difficult job.” The French government, he added will be focusing on how to enhance and deepen relationship with Nigeria, including on issues of “counter terrorism and sharing information when it comes to deradicalization.”
The Prime Minister also congratulated the Nigerian President and military over the degrading of Boko Haram. He asked the Vice President at the Thursday afternoon meeting to convey to President Buhari “our message of admiration of his efforts to modernize your country.”
He then commended the Nigerian Vice President on how he is supporting the President, especially by holding the fort as Acting President while President Buhari was away.
“You played a significant role for your country while holding forth for your country. Also you play an important role in relaunching the Nigerian economy, ” the Prime Minister observed, adding that French investors will take advantage of the opportunity the Nigerian economy offers.
Vice President Osinbajo welcoming the idea added that the recently released FG’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan is private sector led, adding that government’s “role is to facilitate and make life easier for investors where we can.”
While appreciating the French government for its hospitality to him and members of his delegation in France, the Vice President commiserated with the government and people of France on the French school children injured in the recent Westminster terror attack in London.
He then congratulated the Prime Minister who was appointed to the position in December.