Reps seek improved Nigeria, France relations


Tajudeen AbbasThe House of Representatives, on Monday, called for improvement in the existing military and diplomatic relationship between Nigeria and France.

This is to enhance the fight against terrorism, oil theft and legislative diplomacy through the parliamentary relationship between the two countries.

The Chairman, House Committee on Defence, Babajimi Benson, stated this when he received a delegation from the French Parliament on behalf of the Speaker, Mr Abbas Tajudeen.

Also on the ground to receive the delegation were two members of the House, Garba Ibrahim and Rufus Ojuawo.

Benson spoke of possible ways of collaboration with France in areas of security through the provision of military hardware, defence industrial capacity, and fight against oil theft among others.

He called on the Emmanuel Macron-led country to assist Nigeria in developing local capacity in terms of security as well as collaborate with Nigeria to address crude oil theft.

This is just as he sought the cooperation of the French government to support the Nigerian military to balance the gender challenge in the system.

In a statement signed by the Special Adviser, Media and Publicity to Speaker Abbas Tajudeen, Musa Krishi quoted Benson as urging the French delegation “To advocate for the strengthening of diplomatic relationship between Nigeria and France via the legislative arms of both countries using parliamentary friendship groups established by the House.

Meanwhile, Ibrahim and Ojuawo raised concerns about the withdrawal of the French troops from the Niger Republic following the coup that took place in the country last year.

The leader of the delegation, Thomas Gassilloud, who is also the Chairman, Committee on National Defence and Armed Forces in the French National Assembly, informed his Nigerian counterparts that France withdrew its troops from Niger based on a request by the host country, adding that “we did that to align ourselves with the decision of the Economic Community of West African States.”

He added that the two countries were already collaborating in the area of intelligence sharing, “which will enable us to target leaders of terrorist groups.”

Mr Gassiloud stated that French vessels patrol the international waters up to the coast of Nigeria and in the process have been able to establish a partnership with the Nigerian Navy, describing the development as “A good cooperation.”

He continued, “We also try to work with local companies to support them to develop capacity in different areas. There’s a defence agreement between Nigeria and France. We have ratified it, but we’re waiting for Nigeria to do the same.

“With regards to oil theft, it’s a very critical issue. It comes with environmental pollution. Statistics indeed show that huge quantities are stolen. It’s in the interest of everyone to see that this issue is resolved,” the head of the French delegation added.

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