EU envoys restate commitment to deepen ties with Nigeria, West Africa


…As Isopi, EU head of delegation in Nigeria hosts accredited EU envoys to West Africa

From Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja

The European Union (EU) Heads of Delegation Accredited to West African Countries have restated their commitment to deepening ties with their host countries, particularly Nigeria.

The EU envoys made the affirmation during a reception held in their honour on the occasion of their visit to Nigeria.

Speaking during the reception, the Head of the EU Delegation to Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Samuela Isopi, said the decision to host the meeting in Nigeria was as a result of Nigeria being the political and economic power house of the West African region and currently holding the chairmanship of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of States and Government and the fact that the ECOWAS Commission is domiciled in Nigeria.

Disclosing the outcome of their deliberations, Isopi said: “I think we have now exchanged a lot and we agreed that to face the challenges, we have to work together; we have to support ECOWAS, we have to support the people of ECOWAS countries and we exchanged ideas on how to do that.”

Earlier, Isopi said the envoys and their hosts had a number of meetings which were extremely useful and enlightening.

“We have ambassadors that are based in Mali, Niger, Guinea Conakry, so I think it was very important also for the interlocutors we met today on the Nigerian side and ECOWAS side, to listen from those that are on the ground and to discuss how can we best work together,” Isopi also said.

Speaking earlier, the EU Head of Division, West Africa and former Deputy Head of Delegation to Nigeria, Richard Young, said it was great to be back to Nigeria.

Young disclosed that the EU managed to bring its eleven ambassadors in West Africa to Nigeria, adding that it was quite exciting for him to have time to visit Nigeria, talk to the people, engage with the people and find out what is happening in the country.

“I think things can improve with Nigeria’s activity, Nigeria’s role in the region,” Young stated.

In his remarks, the Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Atiku Bagudu, said under the leadership of Isopi, relations continued to evolve between Nigeria and the EU in Nigeria, having led ambassadors in the last one year that they have worked together to very actively promote the cooperation between Nigeria and the EU, and as well as individual country.

Bagudu further said Nigeria is very proud of the evolution of the relations between the EU and Nigeria.

He stated that Nigeria knew that regional cooperation mattered greatly and sometimes, some countries disproportionately pay the price of regional cooperation.

“And that is what Nigeria is committed to doing, we are committed to rule of law, we are committed to democracy, we are committed international issues that concern climate change, migration, we don’t want our children being a burden, we are proud of them, we want them to go to places in the world out of choice rather than out of necessity.

“So, we are willing and ready to cooperate in any way, shape or form with EU and especially because President Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who is currently the chairman of the Economic Community of West African State, to also appeal to the greater cooperation with the EU so that in the sub-region and in the continent, the leadership that is able to take on bold reforms as seen to be supported by the democratic world, by the industrious world because not only are we committed to democracy, but we are committed to micro economic reforms that we believe will in the long run, bring private capital and lead us to doubling our GDP and beyond.

“But in so doing, we took short-term measures that are very tough which have disproportionately affected some life segment of the population, those at the lower end of the strata and we are pleased with the support and cooperation from EU and a number of EU countries have been supporting us, but we want more,” Bagudu said.

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