ABUJA – The Italian Government on Wednesday in Abuja declared its support and willingness to assist Nigeria in the fight against terrorism.
The Italian Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Fulvius Rusticu, gave this pledge during a courtesy visit to the Minister of State 1 for Foreign Affairs, Prof. Viola Onwuliri.
Rusticu said Nigeria and Italy had a long tradition of military and security cooperation that could bolster the ongoing fight against insurgency in the country.
He recalled that in April both countries conducted a joint naval parade in Lagos, which underscored the importance of the defence cooperation between both countries.
“Italy is a major country in the production of military equipment and we have some experience in tackling terrorism.
“We have also conducted training for Nigeria security forces in the past’’, he said.
The Italian envoy said his country was ready to be involved in the fight against insurgency in any way the Nigerian government deemed fit and necessary.
The ambassador urged the minister to use her good offices to ensure that Nigerian erected a pavilion at the Expo MILAN 2015, with “Food and Agriculture’’ as its theme.
He said 143 countries, including 40 in Africa, had indicated interest to participate in EXPO Milan to showcase their current activities and proposals for the future, around the theme of food and nutrition.
Responding, Onwuliri thanked the Italian envoy for the offer and noted that capacity building for Nigeria security agencies was central in the fight against terrorism.
“Terrorism is new to us and somehow, our security agencies are not very much prepared for it’’, she said.
She, however, expressed confidence in the ability of Nigerian security agencies to defeat insurgents who had conducted multiple bombings, abductions and indiscriminate killings.
On Nigeria’s participation at EXPO Milan, the minister said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had written to President Goodluck Jonathan and was awaiting his approval.
She said the financial implication to rent a pavilion at the Milan Expo 2015 was “huge’’, but did not say whether that foreclosed Nigeria’s participation.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that following a presidential directive in January, the Federal Government is implementing a policy that has curtailed foreign travel by government personnel.
The directive, which applied to all Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the federal government, was aimed at reducing the cost of governance. (NAN)