This Day (Lagos)

2 August 2011

Nigeria: Boko Haram - Ivorian President Calls for Dialogue

Cote d'Ivoire President, Alassane Ouattara, says dialogue remains the immediate solution to the security situation caused by Boko Haram especially in the North-eastern part of the country.

Ouattara, who made this known in Abuja during his meeting with Nigerian businessmen and women, said with dialogue put in place, there will be relative peace in the country.

The Ivorian President cited examples of wars in some countries which lasted for years, but that when dialogue was introduced, peace automatically reigned supreme in such countries.

"Maintaining peace is very challenging. Activities of Boko Haram in Nigeria should be addressed with utmost caution. In this case, the only solution to the problem is dialogue. Federal Government of Nigeria should have a round-table discussion with the leaders of the sect and find a lasting solution to the problem. Even wars between two countries were being tackled with dialogue and this method should be used to solve the problem at hand", he said.

While calling on businessmen and women in the country to invest in Cote d'Ivoire for the country's economic growth, the President explained that the long years of political instability in his country has pulled it back economically.

His words: "I'm in Nigeria for two reasons. First, to thank President Goodluck Jonathan and the whole of Nigeria for standing by me in my trying period. All I can say is 'thank you'. I had wanted to visit Nigeria first to appreciate the people and the government, but President Obama invited me to the United State of America and I had to go there before coming to Nigeria.

"My second mission to the country is to invite all you businessmen and women to Cote d'Ivoire to invest in the economy of the country. We will give you full support and all the encouragement you will need for the growth of your businesses. The internal war in Cote d'Ivoire lasted for 10 years. About 3000 people were killed, while about 10 million were displaced. Between 2000 and 2010, our economy dropped by 6.7 percent. Input stopped for several years. This has affected our economy negatively. With the 20 million indigenes of Cote d'Ivoire and another 20 million foreigners, making up to 40 million population of the country, your businesses will receive upward growth in no time.

As I said earlier, we will give you full support in ensuring your businesses get to enviable height", Quattara promised.

Insisting on integration of African countries as a panacea for prosperity in the region, the Ivorian president said with his country's resources in agricultural products like cocoa, rubber, oil and others, and Nigeria richly blessed in oil and other mineral resources, the two countries would benefit immensely from each other economically.

"It is better we invest in African countries than other countries abroad. African countries and Africans will benefit from this and it will affect our development. That is why I will tell President Jonathan to look into the highway from Lagos to Abidjan and Dakar for easy transportation of goods in these countries. Apart from that, it will help in knowing the place of Africa in the Security Council", he said.

Chairman of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote said in his remarks promised to re-invest in the cement industry of the country.

Dangote explained that prior to the political instability in Cote d'Ivoire, he had started a cement industry which he said, was put on hold because of the crisis in the country.

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