18 April 2014

Nigeria: Pakistan President Leads 70-Man Delegation to Nigeria

President Mamnoon Hussain of Pakistan will begin a three-day working visit to Nigeria from Monday, April 21, the Pakistan Deputy High Commissioner, Ahmed Sirohey said in Abuja.

The visit is the first of a Pakistan's president to Nigeria in 32 years and Hussain is leading a 70-man delegation, Sirohey told reporters.

According to him, the delegation is mainly made up of government officials and businessmen from the country's textile industry.

He said Nigeria and Pakistan had enjoyed excellent diplomatic relations in the past four decades, but has not reflected in the economic sector.

"Trade relation is still low with current annual bilateral trade of about 70 million dollars.

"Our president is coming with the hope of strengthening economic and trade relations between both countries and where any of the two countries have expertise we should support each other."

The Pakistani envoy said both countries would also explore cooperation in the field of petroleum resources and energy, adding that Pakistan could help Nigeria address its domestic gas challenges.

"We have huge pipe-to-gas across the country and there are about eight million customers served by our Natural Gas Company and they are provided gas in their houses.

"Bills are sent to customers at the end of the month and the bill for a house of six people is not more than N300 per month.

"If it is a big house like you have in Maitama district in Abuja it is not more than N1500," he said.

He said improved cooperation with Nigeria in the areas of food security, agriculture and the textile industry would strengthen President Goodluck Jonathan's Transformation Agenda.

He recalled that in 2012 Jonathan and Hussain had discussed the issue of reviving the textile industry in Nigeria on the sideline of the D8 meeting in Islamabad.

Later, Sirohey confirmed to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the issue of Prisoners Transfer Agreement (PTA) between both countries could come up for discussion during the presidential visit.

He said no fewer than 30 Nigerians were currently serving in Pakistan prisons while at least two Pakistanis were in Nigeria prisons.

"We have sent the PTA to Nigeria if it is ready for signing, maybe the agreement would be signed," he said.

NAN reports that the presidential visit is coming barely two weeks after Nigeria requested for Pakistan's cooperation in the fight against insurgency in some parts of the country.

Nigeria's request was mentioned in a communiqué issued on April 8 in Abuja at the end of the Joint Ministerial Meeting of the Nigeria-Pakistan Joint Commission.

Nigeria and Pakistan have an existing cooperation on defence, which has facilitated the training of Nigerian military officers in Pakistan's military institutions.

"Last year, 120 military officers from Nigeria attended various courses in Pakistan and this year at least 40 are currently undergoing training in various areas," Nigeria's High Commissioner to Pakistan, Malam Dauda Danladi, told NAN recently. (NAN)

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