President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, on Wednesday inaugurated the Nigeria-Morocco Parliamentary Friendship Group and described the body as a veritable instrument to deepen integration among nations globally.
According to a statement by the Special Assistant to the President of the Senate on Print Media, Chuks Okocha, Saraki also said that the integration process in Africa is a process that its time has come.
He stated that the inauguration of the Friendship group would open a gateway for strategic partnership especially with the pipeline and fertilizer agreements signed in Rabat in May 2017.
He said that the two agreements have continental dimensions as their successes will be a major milestone for the region.
“The economic advantage of our unity is the gas pipeline project for which cooperation agreement has been signed,” Saraki said. “The integration of Africa into the global energy equation has come to stay and Nigeria and Morocco have a strategic role to play to economically link Africa to Europe and other consumer nations.”
He added: “The multi-billion dollar OCP (Morocco) and FESPAN (Nigeria) agreement on the production of fertilizer will have an effect on the economy of the region as a whole. It will allow agricultural development which will create greater prosperity, improve food security and eradicate hunger.
“It is expected that the public and private sectors of both countries would collaborate to leverage on the abundant opportunities to create sustainable economic growth in the region.
“I have no doubt in my mind that Nigeria and Morocco’s relationship is at all-time best, thus we must do everything possible to maintain and strengthen this unique cooperation.
“Following my visit to the President of the House of Councilors in Rabat in the month of March this year, H.E. Mr. Hakim Benchamach and I discussed how to deepen parliamentary cooperation between Nigeria and Morocco in order to support our executive arms of governments.
“We came to the conclusion that setting up an effective parliamentary friendship group at the parliament of both countries is a good starting point. I am happy that we have kept this promise and moving towards the brighter side of our relationship.
“Another issue that came up during my visit to Rabat that is relevant to what we are doing here today, was the possibility of setting up an inter-continental forum of parliaments in Africa and Latin America through a joint parliamentary action within the framework of South-South cooperation.
“This committee can consider taking up such an agenda to discuss the pros and cons and the overall benefit to our people particularly in achieving our sustainable development agenda.
“As an inter-parliamentary group, I expect all members of the Nigeria-Morocco Parliamentary Friendship Group to foster the development of friendship between our two countries and develop close relations and cooperation between our parliaments.
“Our role as parliamentarians is to formulate legislations that will build on the already blooming relationship between our countries and create ripple effects across Africa. I want to urge you to put in your best, sacrifice time and always look for compromise to move our relationship forward,” Saraki said.
Earlier, the Chairman of the Friendship Group, Senator Ike Ekweremadu who is also the deputy president of the Senate said that the inauguration of the group was part of the parliamentary efforts to cement the bilateral relationship between Nigeria and Morocco.
The leader of the Moroccan delegation, Mr. Abdellatif Hafidi, commended the Senate for spear heading the formation of the group, stating that it is for the mutual benefits of both countries.
He also described the parliamentary group as Friendship between two equals that has the interest of its people at heart.