The visiting Algeria Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Sabri Boukadoum has emphasised the need Nigeria and his country to take the lead in championing African issues.
Boukadoum said as two great powers in the continent, the onus is on both countries to be in the forefront in addressing the region challenges.
He spoke in Abuja on Thursday during a meeting with his Nigerian counterpart, Geoffrey Onyeama.
The Algerian Minister said his country and Nigeria should take the lead on issues that affect peace and security amongst other challenges.
Besides, the minister said one of the reasons for his visit was to see how both countries can improve on the current working relationship for the betterment of the continent at large.
He stressed that Nigeria is definitely to big to be ignored on any matter in Africa, and hence the need for the country to continue its usual roles in the continent.
He said, “No I have not said that Nigeria has not been taking the lead in African issues, I am saying in the future, we and Nigeria should take the lead on all African issues.
On peace and security issues that we are confronting, for example the challenges in the Sahel, no one can diminish the role that Nigerian forces are doing in fighting terrorism but what we can do it together and taking the lead in the field because the reason is also politically, how can you pass on the message to others. If we speak together, the way we strategise our work with othors, try to express how we can diminish for example terrorism threat. Working on terrorism first but then going into the root causes, that we can do with Nigeria.
“When I said we need Nigeria, definitely we need Nigeria as we did in the past for independence of many African countries, you have to continue this role. Nigeria should continue this role. Working together hand in hand, it is not dominating or trying to dominate.
“Of course Nigeria is the largest country in West Africa and it is openness between us to confront others. This is why I am here and we are calling for that we have to discuss and that is what we are doing with my brother Geoffrey and I think we are succeding as we have no problem at all.
“What am saying is that alone, no one can succed. Whatever issue; imagine the issue of the Covid, not a single country in the world could face covid alone, it is impossible. The only possibility to confront covid is cooperation, international cooperation on the vaccines and cure but we need to work together and the pillars in Africa are Nigeria and Algeria.”
Speaking on the bilateral relations between both countries, though he said much still needed to be done including establishing direct flight between both countries.
He also added, “On what we are doing together, I think we have about 50 agreements -bilateral agreements with Nigeria some have been implemented and other are at the point of negotaition.
“I will say on the business side, we have to work hard together and I would say that we will increase the speed and we will do it. I have committed myself to doing it as soon as possible.
“In the area of infrastructure, the trans-saharan road from Algiers to Lagos, the fibre optic from Algiers to Lagos the gas pipeline, this is infrastructure, they are huge investment that we have to make. I mean linking physically the two countries.”
“We need to understand what we are building, I mean that we need a special relationship that must exist between Nigeria and Algeria,” he added.
In his remark, Onyeama said Nigeria-Algeria relationship dates back from independence of the country.
He said, “Our relationship goes back from independence of Nigeria. We had what we will call Algeria is one of the countries that we have special relatiinship with and our presidents have always been very close and you will recall for instance the new partnership for Africa development which is very important mechanism that was created to address African development going forward, at the core of that, the conceptìon and the bringing in to be, you had two presidents, Algeria and Nigeria who were really at the core of that really showed that we considered that partnership as the engine for African growth and development, that is how close we are.
Going forward and in the recent past, we have been looking at greater economic cooperation and that has been an area that we have tried to focus on and also in area of peace and security. Consider that Algeria is a key partner in helping to achieve peace and security on the African continent.
“We are two big countries in the African Union. About five countries that pays most of the financial contributions to the African union. So, we strategize together and make sure we are on the same page, otherwise, it will be difficult to achieve significant progress on the continent without that.
Also, in the larger world, in the multilateral level, the United Nations and other international organisations, we seem to maintain that solidarity between two of us and we have the same value and the same world views and vision.
“So in that area, you will recall that just last week at the Federal Executive Council, Mr. President made the agreement for diplomats of Algeria coming to Nigeria without requirement of visas. So we have a special relationship and this meeting we have sort to identify those agreement we still need to implement foing forward.”