A robust cooperation between Nigeria and Ethiopia will provide a strong pillar for African integration, President Muhammadu Buhari has said.
Mr Buhari noted that this would give concrete effect to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), a statement signed by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on media & publicity, Garba Shehu, on February 12, highlighted.
According to the statement, speaking at a State Dinner in his honour on Tuesday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Mr Buhari said as the two most populous countries on the continent, Nigeria and Ethiopia shared similar challenges, stressing that it has become imperative for both countries to strengthen and expand cooperation at all levels and in all areas.
Mr Buhari, according to the statement, said his visit to Ethiopia focused on how to further boost relations and explore new areas of cooperation between the two countries.
”Relations between Nigeria and Ethiopia have been warm and cordial since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1964.
”Currently, a ministerial joint commission meeting is taking place between Nigeria and Ethiopia to finalise documents for our consideration.
”I am confident that the meeting will produce a fruitful outcome which will elevate relations to a higher level,” the statement quoted the president.
President Buhari also extolled his host for bringing transformation to the country, describing his work as that of a visionary leader.
According to the statement, Mr Buhari also used the occasion to congratulate Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, again, on the Nobel Peace Prize.
”Your visionary leadership has seen an amazing transformation of your country in such a short period of time,” he said.
In his remarks, the Ethiopian Prime Minister described President Buhari’s visit as historic, noting that it represents a new height in the historical relationship between the two countries.
”We have had fruitful discussions today with President Buhari on a wide range of issues of common interest and experience between our two countries.
”We have explored how to enhance investments, trade, tourism, aviation cooperation and energy development,” the statement quoted Mr Ahmed as saying.
The prime minister expressed the readiness of Ethiopia to exchange lessons with Nigeria on asset recovery and repatriation of stolen funds, given Nigeria’s success in the area and the fight against corruption.
According to the statement, Mr Ahmed added that Ethiopia also had a lot to learn from Nigeria on national unity, peaceful co-existence and religious diversity.
”Ethiopia is facing big challenges in this regard and our party leadership will like to learn from Nigeria on how to tackle this challenge and to unify Ethiopia, East Africa and the continent at large,” he said.
He also called for the strengthening of the roles of G-4 countries namely Nigeria, Ethiopia, Algeria and South Africa, in leading the continent politically and economically, thereby providing peace, prosperity and stability to their respective countries and the continent.