The issues bordering on how to forge strong economic co-operation, assistance for rebuilding of the insurgency ravaged North-East zone and how to benefit from the advanced technologies for energy supply dominated the various discussions held Thursday by a Senate delegation presently in Berlin, Germany.
A statement by Special Adviser ( Media and Publicity) to Senate President, Yusuph Olaniyonu, stated that from the meeting with the Vice President of the lower chamber of the German Parliament, the Bundestag, Mr. Johannes Singhammer to the ones with top officials of the think-tank group, Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the German-African Business Associations, the Foreign Office and members of the Parliamentary Friendship Group for relations with the English and Portuguese speaking States of West and Central Africa, Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki who led the Nigerian delegation was consistent with the message as he maintained that Germans must prove in action that Nigeria was actually very important to their strategic interests in Africa.
Saraki, accompanied by Deputy Senate Leader, Bala Ibn Naallah, Senators Enyinaya Abaribe, Monsurat Sunmonu and Abubakar Kyari, arrived the Bundestag at a time when the German lower House was discussing Europe-Africa relations and the Senate President said Germany was the first country the 8th Senate visited at the leadership level.
While thanking the Germans for their contributions to funds towards the rehabilitation of the North-east zone of Nigeria during last month’s meeting of the European Union in Oslo, Norway, Saraki said the next challenge is how to rebuild the devastated region, rehabilitate and resettle the people.
He said the areas affected by the Boko Haram has two million displaced people, a figure greater than that of the Syrian crisis which now gets all the attention and commitment of resources from the international community.
He urged the Germans to go beyond the provision of intelligence and training as well as light equipment for the military. He said Germans can influence other countries to sell durable and more efficient military hardware to Nigeria so as to strengthen the armed forces.
“I am happy at the coincidence that as we are visiting you, you, at your plenary session, are discussing the role of Europe in Africa. Though a lot is already happening in our relations with your country, however, we need more German investments in our country, even as we take deliberate, well planned steps to diversify our economy and pay more attention to agriculture, mining of mineral resources and manufacturing.
” No economy in the world has the kind of potentials that Nigeria has and if we talk of Africa, you are talking of Nigeria as the leader. We, in the parliament, are working on several Bills that will open up the economy and make it easy to do business with great rate of return on investment”, he said.
The Senate President explained to the Germans that Nigeria now gives visa at the point of entry to genuine business people and tourists, a fact testified to by a member of the German-African Business Association present at one of the meetings.
He also talked about the Ease of Doing Business Committee headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the National Assembly Business Environment Roundtable and the efforts to fully open up the national economy to private sector participation through laws and policies.
While speaking with the various groups, Saraki explained the various measures introduced to fight corruption and entrench transparency in the public sector. He assured members of the German-African business community and the Parliamentary Friendship Group that various laws that will ensure easy entry and exit into the economy as well as dispute resolution and contract enforcement that comply with global best practices are being enacted.
The Senate President in his address to Singhammer, Vice President of Bundestag, and the Parliamentary Friendship Group led by Charles Hubber, also canvassed for the co-operation of the German lawmakers in granting legal stay to law abiding and skilful Nigerians who have been living in Germany for a long time so that they can meaningfully and positively contribute to the economy of their host country.
In the area of power, the Senate President and Abaribe who is the Chairman, Senate Committee on Power, Steel and Metallurgy urged the Germans to invest in the sector in Nigeria.
Abaribe explained that Nigeria is open to utilising different sources of energy like the solar, gas turbines, renewable energy, bio-gas, particularly as there is need to decentralise the operation.
The Senate President also explained that Nigeria was about to experiment with having some educational and health institutions operate independent sources of power not connected to the national grid.
In most of the places visited, the Germans identified the need for Nigeria to invest in adequate security and infrastructure, create necessary legal framework and review policies aimed at driving investments if she wants to attract more investments.