By Nkechi Okoronkwo
Marrakech – President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to the Kingdom of Morcco in June has enhanced bilateral relations between the two African countries, says Nigeria’s Ambassador to the country, Amb. Baba Garba.
Garba told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Marrakech, Morocco, on Wednesday that it was the first official visit by a sitting Nigerian president since both countries established diplomatic ties in 1969.
He, however, said that former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s attended the burial of the late King H.M. Hassan II of Morocco, the father of the present King, His Majesty, King Mohammed VI.
To this end, Garba said that cooperation in the areas of agriculture, aviation and education among others had witnessed quantum leap.
“Only two weeks after the king’s visit to Nigeria, we started receiving phosphate which is vital to fertiliser production. Over 250 fertiliser industries were under lock and key prior to the king’s visit to Nigeria.
“Today, most of those industries have re-opened and most of the workers in the fertiliser industries have recovered lost jobs.’’
In the area of education, the ambassador said following his intervention on assumption of duty in July 2017, Morocco had increased scholarship to Nigerian students from 50 to 100.
“Morocco has also increased scholarship awards by the Bureau for External Aid to Nigerian students from 50 to 100.’’
On aviation, he said that the country’s national carrier, Royal Air Maroc would, in April 2019, resume flights on the Abuja-Kano route which it had operated for a brief period and discontinued due to the Boko Haram menace.
“In the area of air service agreement, Royal Air Maroc had operated flights to Kano for a brief period and stopped due to insurgency.
“Currently, they have six-day weekly flights to Lagos, which is almost 100 per cent fully loaded and I have succeed in convincing them to open that route to Abuja and by April next year it will become operational.
“Their team in Abuja has secured accommodation and so very soon they will start flying to Abuja from Casablanca.’’
On the issue of illegal immigrants, Garba said that many Nigerians were among Africans who benefitted from the King’s magnanimity by granting them permanent residency status.
He stressed on the need for Nigeria to learn lessons from the desert country which had transformed not only its agriculture but also made the country environmentally friendly.
“We can learn lot from Morocco in the area of agriculture. This is a desert country. Marrakech is in the south, close to Mauritania and this area is considered to be desert.
“Look around you, everywhere is green and it is a desert; we are cooperating in the field of agriculture, including date production and so many other things.
“How I wish Kano, Katsina, Sokoto and Maiduguri, among others, can have this kind of vegetation,’’ the ambassador said.
NAN reports that Nigeria and the Kingdom of Morocco signed three agreements as part of activities marking Buhari’s two-day visit to the country.
The agreements includes a regional gas pipeline that would see Nigeria providing gas to countries in the West African sub-region that extends to Morocco and Europe.