Nigeria and France on Tuesday signed three agreements worth $475 million on social amenities and reforestation.
The agreements, the signing of which was witnessed by both President Muhammadu Buhari and the visiting French President, Emmanuel Macron, during their bilateral talks at the Presidential Villa, cover Urban Mobility Improvement Programme of Lagos State, Sustainable Water Supply in Kano city and Reforestation project in Ogun State.
According to information on the deals, the Lagos State agreement involved a letter of intent for the financing of urban mobility improvement project through a loan of $200 million, involving the development of eight priority bus corridors connected to the Lagos mass transit network.
In the Ogun State reforestation project, a French company in conjunction with the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) is to mobilise from investors about $200 million for land reclamation to correct the degradation of arable land being witnessed in the state.
In his comments after the signing of the pacts, Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, told State House correspondents that the project aimed to reforest 108,000 hectares of depleting forest in the state, describing the pact as very vital to not only addressing climate change challenges and recreating the forest, but also creating jobs, among other benefits.
On the Kano deal, France, through its foreign development agency, Whence Francaise de Development (AFD), will also extend a credit facility of $75 million towards improving water supply in Kano city.
According to official sources, the concessional loan is expected to help Kano State Government ensure more residents of the city have access to drinking water while improving the financial viability of the state water board to increase its revenues.
Addressing newsmen after the signing of the agreements, Presidents Buhari and Macron, in their joint press conference expressed the readiness of their countries to continue to promote socio-economic interests for the general good of both countries.
Both Presidents pledged to strengthen Franco-Nigerian relations in tackling security challenges occasioned by Boko Haram and ISIS jihadists in Nigeria and the Sahel region of Africa.
Specifically, Macron said that he was more concerned about how African governments organised themselves to effectively tackle terrorists’ threats on the continent.
He said: “The main plan is an African plan and France is not the one to solve or fix African situations.
So what we want to do is that we will intervene and maintain our presence in Africa and Sahel to fight against terrorism, especially in Mali and in the region.
“What is important to me is how the different African governments organise themselves to fight against terrorism and get rid of these people and especially, jihadism. That is why I do promote the G5/Sahel Initiatives.
“As far as we are organised, Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon is also very important, it is Boko Haram. I think first we have to increase the operations and the pressure against these jihadists. We can fix the situation in the coming months and obviously France will remain present in Africa for as long as they want it’’, the French leader stressed.
President Buhari thanked the French government for its support and assistance to Nigeria in her current efforts towards combating insurgency and violent extremism in the country