Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire, as two of the largest countries and economies in ECOWAS, are duty bound to cooperate in the interests of their citizens and the rest of the region.
The vice president made this submission in his address at the high level segment of the 2nd Session of the Nigeria-Cote d’Ivoire Bi-National Commission on Saturday in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.
The News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) reports that the maiden edition of the meeting, which took place in Abuja in Aug.., 2013, led to the signing of six sectoral agreements and the establishment of Special Implementation Committees in both countries.
Osinbajo said that the shared values of democracy, protection of human rights must continue to be the guiding principles for cooperation for mutual benefit of both countries and for the well being of West Africa.
“I bring you the very warm greetings of our President, President Muhammadu Buhari, who has requested that I express sincere appreciation to President Alhassane Ouattara, President of the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire for his friendship and positive disposition to strengthening bilateral ties between our two countries.
“By the same token, I wish to thank my Co-Chair, the Prime Minister of the Republic, Patrick Achi for his commitment to further deepening bilateral ties between Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire.
“As two of the largest countries and economies in ECOWAS, Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire are duty bound to cooperate in the interests of our citizens and indeed the rest of the sub-region.
” This 2nd session of our Binational Commission gives us the opportunity to re-affirm our wish to deepen friendly relations and to further strengthen and diversify our bilateral ties.
“Our shared values of democracy, protection of human rights and our aspirations for peace, progress and prosperity must continue to be the guiding principles for our cooperation for mutual benefit and for the well being of West Africa.”
He said that the meeting was significant in the sense that it was the second session since it was upgraded from a Joint Commission to a Binational Commission.
Osinbajo said that the meeting which was held at a higher political level signalled even greater commitment to improving cooperation between both countries.
” It is also encouraging that we have been able to hold this meeting despite the difficulties posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and an uncertain global economic environment.
“It reflects our political will to place Nigeria-Cote d’Ivoire relations on an even firmer footing.
“The maiden edition of this Binational Commission which took place in Abuja in Aug., 2013 was very successful.
” It led to the signing of six sectoral Agreements as well as the establishment of Special Implementation Committees in both countries to monitor progress.
” It is pleasing to know that this session of the Binational Commission took the opportunity to assess progress and implementation of the previous set of agreements while also taking the opportunity to negotiate another set of important sectoral agreements which will be signed today.”
He commended the efforts of experts of both countries who had deliberated painstakingly on a set of new agreements which cover agriculture, digital economy, education, consular and immigration matters; and prevention of juman trafficking amongst others.
According to him, there can be no doubt that the sectors are of great importance to both countries.
“In agriculture for instance, Cote d’Ivoire is a leading producer of key commodities like cocoa and coffee which are crops that Nigeria also produces and there is certainly great scope for learning and collaborating in the international trade of these commodities.
” In the same vein, given the large number of Nigerians who have made their home here, it is important that both countries cooperate closely on consular matters.
“We must also work closely together to tackle the evil practice of human trafficking which seems to be on the rise in this region.”
He said that he looked forward to closer military cooperation between both countries so that working together could help to maintain the peace and security of our countries and neighbourhood.
“With peace, businesses will thrive so we are very much looking forward to the convening of the Business Forum leg of this Binational Commission.
” In this regard, it is my sincere wish that the holding of the Business Forum will lead to the establishment of a Nigeria-Cote d’Ivoire Business Council.
“Such close ties between the business sectors of both countries also means that we should move speedily to finalise negotiations on an avoidance of double taxation agreement and to review our Bilateral Air Services Agreement so as to facilitate movement of people and cargo between both countries.”
He said that to be meaningful, the agreements signed had to be implemented so that both countries could reinforce mechanisms for monitoring and evaluating their impact.
Osinbajo said that the Special Implementation Committee must be fully reactivated and revitalised so that both countries could track progress given the additional agreements that were to be signed at the session.
“Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire must continue to build closer economic ties, especially within the ambit of regional integration agreements like ECOWAS and the African Continental Free Trade Area,” he said.
According to him, the integration agreements must be seen as an opportunity that goes beyond trade but one that helps to deepen regional value chains.
Earlier in his welcome address, Achi said that the meeting was an ideal platform to improve the quality of trade cooperation between both countries and the ECOWAS region.
He said it would also address common interests and challenges in areas of security, oil and energy, terrorism among others
Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Amb. Maryam Katagum, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Amb. Zubairu Dada, representatives of the Ministries of Agriculture, Police Affairs, Nigeria Immigration Service, among others attended the meeting.