President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday in Rabat, the capital of Morocco, said Nigeria's strongest selling point remains an "intellectually aggressive and economically ambitious populace" that always seeks self-improvement and self-actualization in any part of the world.
According to him, Nigeria's "visionary and resilient population" that works hard to always position the country for more growth is fuelled by a largely youthful group that continually wants to contribute to development.
The president spoke during a meeting with the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Morocco, Saadeddine Othmani, at the Royal Guest Palace in Rabat.
A statement by his senior special assistant media, Mallam Garba Shehu, quoted Buhari as saying: "Nigerians are intellectually aggressive and economically ambitious. I received some of our students here yesterday and I am really impressed with the zeal and fearlessness they exuded.
"In Nigeria we have a very young and aggressive population and we are working very hard to create the enabling and inclusive environment for their contributions to be better appreciated," the President told the Prime Minister".
The Nigerian leader said his government is harnessing the human and material resources available in the country, especially in the educational and agricultural sectors, while seeking partnerships with countries that can explore the huge potentials in Nigeria.
The president noted that Nigeria is already on the verge of an agricultural revolution as the importation of rice had been cut down by 90 per cent in 18 months.
"We need to do more to improve our statistics on food production and graciously, the weather has been auspicious in the last couple of years for agricultural growth. We are happy that through partnership with you and hard work the price of fertilizer is already down by 50 per cent," he said.
On the three agreements signed during his visit, namely, Nigeria-Morocco Gas Pipeline project, vocational training in agriculture and building of a chemical plant in Nigeria, President Buhari assured the Prime Minister that they will receive appropriate attention.
"We have a huge gas reserve in Nigeria, and we should be known more for gas exploration than for crude oil. So, we are happy with the new partnership with Morocco," he added.
On his part, the Moroccan Prime Minister said his country had always been impressed by Nigeria's intellectual zeal and strength, noting that "many Moroccans appreciate the intellectual contribution of Nigerians, especially in literary works.
"Your visit to our country is historic and we are looking forward to more partnerships, especially among our universities, which would further consolidate our relationship," Othman added.
President Buhari also met with the head of the Moroccan legislature, Habib El Malki and the President of the Advisers on Commerce, Ben Chemmas.
The Nigerian leader ended his two-day visit to the Kingdom of Morocco with a visit to the mausoleum where he laid wreaths on the tombs of past kings.
Nigeria, Morocco Sign Agreement On 5,660km Gas Pipeline Construction
Nigeria and the Kingdom of Morocco yesterday signed three agreements, including a regional gas pipeline that will see Nigeria providing gas to countries in West Africa sub-region that extend to Morocco and Europe.
The signing of the agreements, witnessed by President Buhari and King of Morocco, Mohammed V1, followed a meeting between the two African leaders, which focused on strengthening economic relations in gas resource development, global investments and agricultural training and management.
A statement by the senior special assistant on media and publicity to the president, Mallam Garba Shehu, noted that the feasibility study of the agreement on the pipeline, which was signed by the Group General Manager, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr Farouq Said Garba, and Mrs Amina Benkhadra, Director General of the National Office of Hydrocarbon and Mines, will be concluded by July 2018.
The presidential spokesman further said the construction of the pipeline will be phased and based on increasing needs of the countries crossed, and Europe, for the period of 25 years.
He said the Nigeria-Morocco Gas Pipeline (NMGP), designed to be 5,660km long, will reduce gas flaring in Nigeria and encourage diversification of energy resources in the country, while cutting down poverty through the creation of more job opportunities.
Shehu added that the NMGP will further encourage utilisation of gas in the sub-region for cooking, and discourage desertification.
He explained: " At the ceremony, the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Nigeria Sovereign Wealth Authority, Mr Uche Orji and the Chief Executive Officer of the Office of the Management of Phosphate in Morocco, Mr Mostafa Terrab signed a Memorandom of Understanding for the development of a chemical plant in Nigeria for producing ammonia and its derivatives.
"The minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh and his Moroccan counterpart, Mr Aziz Akhannouch, signed a cooperation agreement on vocational training and technical supervision, which will enhance skills on better management of agricultural outfits in Nigeria.
"President Buhari, who was received by a large crowd from the airport to the Rabat Royal Palace, assured the King of Morocco of Nigeria's full commitment to the actualisation of all the agreements signed".
Stakeholders Hail Initiative
Meanwhile, stakeholders in the midstream sub-sector of Nigeria's oil industry have commended the agreement between Nigeria and Morocco to develop a gas pipeline that will transport gas from Nigeria to that country.
A cross section of industry players who spoke to LEADERSHIP said the initiative was the needed impetus to stop gas flaring even as they express optimism that it would boost the nation's economy.
Immediate past president of Nigeria Gas Association (NGA), Dada Thomas said the move will help address the huge infrastructure gap in the sector.
Thomas, who is also the chief executive officer of Frontier oil and gas, a company with key focus on gas development, told LEADERSHIP that potentials of midstream sector are yet to be tapped because of lack of infrastructure.
He said domestic gas utilisation has been significantly hampered, as available infrastructure cannot support transportation of gas from the Niger Delta region to areas where the product can be consumed.
According to him, with the land based trunk pipeline traversing the North, smaller pipelines will emerge out of that to support new offtakers.
He also envisaged that the project would trigger new investments in gas exploration to increase current reserves to enable the country meet anticipated rise in the product demand.
"What we will begin to see now is fresh investments to boost our reserves, the 192 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves is merely accidental discovery by exploration companies, there has not been a deliberate gas exploration in the country so for us to meet new export requirements of gas which this initiative will bring about operators will now engage in deliberate gas exploration. This will help ramp up our reserves to meet both export and domestic utilization of gas", he said.
On his part, a member of NGA, Danlami Maikura said Nigeria needs to do more to promote the gas industry so that it becomes an integrated oil and gas producing country that generates as much revenue from gas as oil noting that "The gas pipeline pact would ensure that if effectively implemented".
LEADERSHIP reports that majority of Nigeria's natural gas is still being flared off and it is estimated that Nigeria loses $18.2 million daily from the loss of the flared gas, even though gas flaring has been prohibited.
Also speaking, the newly appointed President of APPO and Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, noted that driven by the quest for development across the African continent, there are new finds of oil and gas, while massive exploration is currently ongoing.
He, however, lamented that finding the necessary funds to finance these ventures is very difficult, as a number of investors are increasingly finding it hard to invest in crude oil and gas exploration in Africa.