President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is historic being the first of its kind by any sitting Nigerian president in the last 30 years.
Observers note that the visit has also given Nigeria the opportunity of signing landmark agreements with the UAE government.
One of such agreements is to facilitate the extradition and recovery of stolen funds allegedly stashed in Dubai by suspected corrupt Nigerians.
Stakeholders in global energy market also note that the summit has, over the years, developed into one of the world’s most influential events dedicated to advancing future energy, energy efficiency and clean technologies.
The summit –World Future Energy Summit — was held between Jan. 18 and Jan. 21 in Abu Dhabi.
Analysts opine that the visit presented a platform for Nigeria to verify a belief that some corrupt Nigerians keep the suspected looted funds in various locations in UAE.
For the benefit of hindsight, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Information and Culture Minister, recently announced that about 55 Nigerians allegedly stole N1.34 trillion in eight years.
Buhari has also in his speeches reiterated his commitment to eradicate corruption and restore Nigeria’s dignity in the comity of nations.
Strengthening this commitment, the president utilised the opportunity of the visit to sign an agreement on recovery of looted funds from Nigeria believed to be kept in UAE.
Mr Femi Adesina, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, said in a statement that Nigeria’s Minister of Justice, Malam Abubakar Malami and his counterpart in UAE, Sultan Bin Saeed Albadi, signed the agreement.
The agreement is Judicial Agreements on Extradition, Transfer of Sentenced Persons, Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal Matters and Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal and Commercial Matters which also seeks to help in recovering and repatriating Nigerian stolen wealth in UAE.
Both countries also signed five other agreements on trade, finance and judicial matters to enhance bilateral relations in the presence of Buhari and the Crown Prince of UAE, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan on the sidelines of the summit.
Nigeria’s Minister of Finance Mrs Kemi Adeosun and the UAE Minister of State for Financial Affairs Obaid Attayar signed the Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement, while the Minister of Trade and Investment, Mr Okechukwu Enelamah, signed the Agreement on Trade Promotion and Protection with the UAE Minister of State for Financial Affairs.
In a remark shortly after the agreements Buhari enjoined all Islamic countries to support the fight against terrorism in Nigeria.
In his remark, Al Nahyan said that the signing of the agreements and Buhari’s visit to UAE would strengthen relations between both countries.
Addressing the opening session of the summit, Buhari called for greater global cooperation against the devastating effects of climate change to avert disaster for the human race in the 21st century.
He reaffirmed Nigeria’s readiness to work with UAE and the rest of the world in a collective effort to mitigate the effects of climate change.
“Africa is already suffering from the consequences of climate change which include recurrent drought and floods.
“In Nigeria, the drastic drying up of the Lake Chad to just about 10 per cent of its original size has negatively impacted on the livelihood of millions of people and contributed in making the region a hot bed of insurgency.
“Desert encroachment in the Republic of Niger, our northern neighbour and in far northern Nigeria, has impacted on the existence of man, animal and vegetation, threatening to alter the whole ecological balance of the sub-region.
“In the middle and southern part of Nigeria, land erosion threatens farming, forestry, towns and villages peripheries and in some areas, major highways,’’ he said.
Buhari said that Nigeria would continue to pursue global action to reverse the drying up of Lake Chad.
“With all due respect to our neighbours, Nigeria has been worst hit by the drying up of the Lake Chad and we are hoping that the global community will support the process of halting the drying up of the lake.
“Constant and abrupt alteration between floods and droughts proves that climate change is real; and therefore a global approach and cooperation to combat its effects are vital,’’ Buhari said.
He noted that the summit was taking place soon after the United Nations Conference on Climate Change held in Paris recently.
He commended UAE for consistently supporting international action on climate change, saying: “We see Abu Dhabi as a dependable partner in the collective effort to manage climate risks including the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
“We appreciate your immense contributions, which worth hundreds of millions of dollars in energy aid to developing countries.’’
On efforts to win the war against insurgency in the North East, Buhari said that the insurgents had been displaced into “fall-back positions’’.
Buhari said that the registration of all mobile phone users without exception would help the security agencies to pre-empt terrorist attacks.
He also assured the global community that his administration would deal with the resurgence of oil thieves, pipeline vandals and insecurity in the Niger Delta.
He noted that the Nigerian military had already dealt with Boko Haram insurgency and that the activities of oil thieves and vandals would soon be brought to an end.
He appealed for more patience and understanding from Nigerians, insisting that his administration would take steps to safeguard the economy from the shock of falling oil prices.
“In the face of our new economic reality of dwindling oil prices, there are a number of things we can really do without to preserve our economy.
“We must develop the capacity to feed ourselves and we should be spending our resources on real development projects, not luxury,” Buhari stressed.
Speaking at a meeting with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki moon on the sidelines of the summit, Buhari said that the Nigerian military in collaboration with the Multinational Joint Task Force had liberated all the areas hitherto taken over by the insurgents.
Ban commended Buhari for his courage in fighting terrorism and corruption, noting that Buhari’s commitment to the war on corruption had boosted global confidence in the Nigerian economy.
The UN scribe reiterated the UN’s support to Nigeria and the management of the Lake Chad Basin.
He stressed the need for the military operations in the north eastern part of Nigeria to be conducted in line with international humanitarian, human rights and refugee laws.
He also advised the Federal Government to support the UN’s newly unveiled plan of action against insurgency and terrorism.
All in all, observers express the hope that Buhari’s visit to Abu Dhabi and the signing of agreements will strengthen the social and cultural relations between both countries.(NANFeatures).
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