President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria and Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, sign three agreements designed to increase economic cooperation between their two countries and also to unite in the war against terrorism
| By Vincent Nzemeke | May 19, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT
NIGERIA’s President Goodluck Jonathan and Uhuru Kenyatta, his Kenyan counterpart, share something in common. They are both leaders of countries facing severe security challenges from Islamic insurgents. While Nigeria continues to battle members of the Boko Haram sect, the Al-shabaab terrorist group disrupting peace in Kenya. In the midst of these security challenges,, Jonathan and Kenyatta have renewed their commitment to fighting terrorism in their countries and ensuring that Africans live in peace.
Both leaders spoke at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Monday May 6, 2014 during a joint press conference after bilateral talks between their delegations on the second day of Kenyatta’s three-day state visit to Nigeria. The press conference was transmitted live on radio and television stations across the city.
Expressing confidence that both countries would overcome their present security challenges, Jonathan said no matter the attacks by terrorists on Nigeria, Kenya and other African countries, the countries will never be derailed from implementing their development programmes. Jonathan specifically applauded the courage of President Kenyatta for not cancelling the state visit to Nigeria because of the terrorist attack in Nairobi, Kenya, on Sunday May 4, 2014.
President Jonathan said: “I also want to use this opportunity to express the condolence of Nigeria and the government to the government of Kenya on the last terror attack. For us in Nigeria, we have been experiencing these dastardly acts for sometimes now
“Kenya is beginning to experience it. We have to appreciate the courage expressed by the President for not aborting the state visit and the invitation to the World Economic Forum because of the attack. It is a clear signal from here that the attack will not stop us from moving forward. The act of terror in Africa is diversionary being organised by a group of people that does not want the continent to move forward.
“Whenever a country is showing any sign of progress, this criminal elements will strike. Yes, they are setting us backward, they are slowing us down, they are killing innocent citizens, they are destroying properties. But surely we will overcome and terror will not stop Africa from progressing. Naturally, the terror attack is to frighten people but as governments, we will do our best to make sure that we provide maximum protection for our citizens.”
In his response, Kenyatta also condoled with Nigeria over the recent attacks which have left many people dead and other injured. He said the attacks were aimed at cowing the people but assured that “they will never succeed.”
Kenyatta emphasized that government alone cannot fight the terrorists, and called for the cooperation of the citizens, adding that the governments of both countries would never lose focus in transforming their economies because of terrorism.
“Let me also from the onset, use this opportunity to join you as well in condoling your government and the people of Nigeria. Just like the people of Kenya, we have suffered at the hands of cowardly terrorists. People who have no value for life continue to wreck wanton havoc on lives and properties in our two countries. Yesterday, as the President has said, we in Kenya lost a number of people and many others injured in the cowardly attack that took place in Nairobi Kenya.
“Indeed, these attacks are aimed at cowing the people of our countries and this continent, to derail them from the new agenda that we have set for ourselves. My presence here is an indication that these people will not derail us. We will continue; we shall fight the fight and we will win the fight and in the process, we will continue with our agenda of transforming our continent’s economy. This, we must not lose focus on.
“Mine is to ask the people that we must join hands together, government alone cannot defeat these cowards who attack people in buses by the road side. We must ask our people to join hands with us to fight this battle. Let me also say that my visit here is equally intended to further consolidate the brotherly partnership between our two countries”, Kenyatta said.
Kenyatta also said the coming together of both countries will be beneficial as both Kenya and Nigeria were basic economic pillars in the continent. “Nigeria is now ranked as the largest economy in Africa and this is an indication that we are moving in the right direction.
“By bringing these two economies and their people together, honestly, I believe is the surest way to guarantee creation of employment for our young men and women, add value to our products and increase the level of trade and inter-African trade. There are great potentials for our people; the time to focus on Africa is now. I want to assure you of my personal commitment in the objectives that we have set for ourselves.
“As we stand today Nigeria is the single largest country helping Kenya in our oil and gas exploration. An African country investing in an African country, this is what we will like to see more often going into the future,” Kenyatta said.
After the conference, Kenya and Nigeria signed three agreements on cooperation in trade, agriculture and integration. Another memorandum of understanding, on cooperation in police service, control in trafficking of narcotics was also signed.
Later at the unveiling of the 20-member Joint Business Council, the growth of bilateral relations in the past one year showed that eight Kenyan firms have started business in Nigeria with a larger volume of tourist/business passenger traffic necessitating Kenyan airways to increase direct flights to Lagos to 10 per week, with plans to connect Abuja.
Also three Nigerian banks have started business in Kenya while seven Kenyan oil blocs have been awarded to Nigerian businesses.