Saraki lobbies French parliament on security, economy

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Abuja – Senate President Bukola Saraki has called on the French government to be more decisive in supporting Nigeria’s war against terrorism, particularly the Boko Haram insurgency in the North East,
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A statement from Yusuph Olaniyonu, the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President of the Senate in Abuja on Sunday said Saraki made the call during a meeting with the President of the French Senate, Sen. Gerard Larcher.

It said the duo met at the COP 21 Globe Parliamentary meeting in Paris and that Saraki urged the French government to step up and assist former colonies in West Africa.

He urged France to strengthen the existing trade relations with Nigeria while also supporting the ongoing efforts to rebuild the Nigerian economy and infrastructure.

He also canvassed Frnces’ support for the completion of the Lake Chad project aimed at ameliorating the environmental challenge in the North East region.

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While commiserating with the French people on the recent terrorist attack in the country, Saraki said that insurgency was a threat not only to Nigeria but also to other African countries as well as a danger to French interests in West Africa.

He noted that France cooperation was needed in intelligence sharing, provision of manpower as well as material support to overwhelm the insurgents.

The Senate president also solicited the help of France for the more than two million internally displaced persons in the country.

“We need to ensure that the people do not return to abject poverty and squalor which contributed to the festering of the hate campaigns by the Boko Haram members.

“If we do not start thinking about how to achieve that, we will soon face another major crisis after ending the present one,” he said.

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Saraki further called for the establishment of a Nigeria-French Forum to address insecurity, trade and other areas of mutual interest.

On the Lake Chad project, Saraki said that the region had a total of 25,000 square kilometres in the 1960s but that it had shrunk to below 1000 square kilometres.

While calling for financial assistance on the project, he said the design and cost implications had been worked out.

In his remark, Larcher described the visit by Saraki as the first by a Nigerian parliamentary leader in the history of French-Nigeria relations.

He said that France would continue to foster the commercial and business relationship between it and Nigeria because Nigeria was one of its largest trading partners in Africa.

The parliamentarian said that the trade relationship between the two countries was worth more than 500 billion dollars annually.

He explained that France had the largest military engagement abroad in the world with thousands of soldiers in West Africa, particularly in Mali.

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“France had been overwhelmed but we can work on the possibility of a French-British alliance that will create a joint task force that will include personnel from both countries working together with local troops,” Larcher said.

He said that there was the need for the parliaments in both countries to create a legislative framework to fight terrorism and resettle those displaced as a result of invasion.

Larcher called for a global effort to fight terrorism in Nigeria through building strong institutions and supporting in the social aspects.

Saraki was accompanied on the visit by senators Bukar Abba Ibrahim, Monsurat Sunmonu, Aliyu Abdullahi, Athan Achonu and Rep. Onuagbo Samuel, the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Climate Change. (NAN)

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