The French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Alain Juppe, on Saturday said his country was ready to support Nigeria in fighting the menace of the Boko Haram sect.
Juppe said this in Abuja on Saturday at a joint press conference with his Nigerian counterpart, Mr.Olugbenga Ashiru. He said his country was ready to share information, coordinate intelligence with Nigeria and train security agents on checking terrorism in the country.
He condemned the Boko Haram attacks and said his visit was primarily to show solidarity with Nigeria on the issue.
According to him, “France is directly concerned with the question of terrorism we receive often. It goes against our interest in the region and so we are in complete solidarity with the countries of the region around the sub Sahara and around the Sahel and how to cooperate with countries which are fighting against this phenomenon. We are ready to share our information. We are ready to coordinate our intelligence services. We are ready to give our help in training operation.
“I will like again to express our complete determination to fight with the countries of the region especially Nigeria and also in the ECOWAS borders to decrease these threats against the populations and the countries.
“Nigeria is France’s number one partner in the Sub-Sahara. Nigeria is a member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and it is also a member of the African Union Peace and Security Council. Our two countries have believed in responsibilities regarding peace and security in Africa and the World.”
On economy, he said: “Last night (Friday night) in the presence of many businessmen, we also discussed our economic and commercial relations. French and Nigeria economic relations are growing fast. The volume of our trade has reached 4.5 billion Euros.”
“France is Nigeria’s fourth largest supplier and our exports are growing by 20% yearly. In addition, France invests 2 billion Euros per year in Nigeria. I am going to encourage trade, businessmen and investors to come over to Nigeria.”
Also speaking, Mr Ashiru said: “As in all situations of terrorism, it would require the co-operation of the international community, especially friendly countries like France, to effectively address this challenge. This is why the Federal Government is particularly delighted with France’s expression of solidarity and condemnation of recent acts in some our cities, which resulted in the loss of innocent lives.
“With the French Minister of Foreign Affairs here in Abuja, you can see that Nigeria is safe for investors to come.”
And at a dinner in honor of the French Minister at the weekend which was attended by France and Nigerian top businessmen, Ashiru said while French investment in Nigeria is substantial “it does not fully reflect the depth and extensiveness of Franco-Nigeria relations. We need to bridge this gap. I expect our business communities to take advantage of this networking dinner to build friendship and business linkages for the mutual benefit of our countries.”
Juppe, who arrived in Nigeria on Friday, also held a closed-door meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan on Saturday.