President Emmanuel Macron of France Tuesday said that France cannot fix the African problems to them but only the provision of security and good economic base by the African leaders would solve their problems.
He also said that he was concerned on the problem of terrorism and jihadism in the country and that he was commuted to having a strong bilateral relations with Nigeria in the areas of fighting terrorism,, improving the economy, sports and cultural development.
This is as Presidents Muhammadu Buhari and Macron held bilateral talks at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja during which agreements for French assistance totalling $475 million for some projects in Lagos, Kano and Ogun states were sihned.
The Lagos deal is a letter of intent for the financing of urban mobility improvement project via a loan of $200 million. This will involve development of eight priority bus corridors connected to the Lagos mass transit network.
In Ogun State, a French firm in conjunction with the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority is to mobilise from investors about $200 million for land reclamation to correct the massive degradation of arable land being witnessed in the state.
The project aims to reforest 108,000 hectares of depleting forest in Ogun, which the State governor, Ibikunle Amosun, hailed as very vital to not only addressing climate change challenges and recreating the forest, but also providing employment to the people of the state, among other benefits.
France, through its foreign development agency, Whence Francaise de Development (AFD), will also extend a credit facility of $75 million towards improving water supply in Kano city.
The concessional loan is expected to help Kano State government ensure more residents of the city have access to drinking water while improving the financial viability of the state water board to increase its revenues.
After the signing of he agreements, Buhari and Macron addressed a joint press conference at the forecourt of the Aso Rock Villa, and pledged to increase the cooperation between Nigeria and France in tackling security challenges occasioned by Boko Haram and ISIS jihadists in Nigeria and the Sahel region of Africa.
While Macron pointed out that France could not do much to assists Nigeria solve the raging crisis of killings by herdsmen, he said he was more concerned about how African governments organised themselves to effectively tackle the challenges posed by jihadists terrorists on the continent.
On his plans to curb terrorism in Africa and more specifically curb herdsmen and farmers crisis in Nigeria, Macron said, "Well it is just that you have all these several issues correlated and your question is related to this event.
"First of all I think the main plan is an African plan and France is not the one to solve or fix African situations. So what we want to do is that we will intervene and make our presence in Africa and Sahel to fight against terrorism especially in Mali and in the region.
"And we will stay as long as it is requested by our friends especially Mali we discussed yesterday (Monday) about this issue.
"But what is important to me is how the different African governments organized themselves to fight against terrorism and get rid of these people and especially jihadism. That's is why I do accompany and do promote the G5/Sahel Initiatives and I think as far as we are organized, Nigeria, Niger, Chad, and Cameroon is very important
Because of Boko Haram insurgency in the areas
"I think first we have to increase the pressure. Yesterday at G5/Sahel we worked very hard on the different operations to come and I think we have to increase the operations and the pressure against this jihadists.
"We can fix the situation in the coming month and obviously France will remain present in France for as long as they want it. But when I look at the past months, we have increased our resource and delivered concrete results in North and West Mali with for me positive outcomes.
"Now, what we have to better understand is, why many people are convinced to join these jihadists and these terrorists, that is what we discussed because of some times economic and ethnic crisis. And that is why it is very important to build not just the security approach but the stabilization approach at the same time, to prove new opportunities to these people and convey two messages: your governments will take care of you.
"I mean provide security and secondly your governments can provide opportunities to you. And the best support is not to join crazy people and buy a bunch of guns and do crazy things. It is not opportunity to have any more opportunities, I think is very important.
That is why I want to accompany different governments and leaders whose main objectives is precisely to provide economic projects. I would say inclusive economic and cultural projects.
"Where you provide the way for your young people to get education, jobs as well as to be proud of what you are. I think is extremely important. Because in a certain way, what we are experiencing today in Europe is also threatened by terrorism, that is moral and cultural crisis. So not just issue about security."
On why he decided to visit African shrine, he said, "Because I wanted a good occasion to come back there, I know the place, I have some memories about the place. I have to confess at a time there was no President around so I hope to attend a party. It is an iconic place for all of African people and African culture. And I think when you speak about African culture in Europe you speak both those from Africa who succeeded in Europe or in France
The shrine is cultural help and iconic help and I recognize the importance of this culture. I recognize the place of this culture and the current environment in this culture."
He said that he wants France and Nigeria to develop a much more relationship in sports and culture, adding that he was going to launch a strong initiative on sports in Africa.
He also said that he want a full presence of France in Nigeria especially on enterprise and digitals because they provide more opportunities for the young people even as he said that he would want business leaders from France and Nigeria to work together so as to find goo ideas for the two countries economy.
He said that the bilateral relations between the two countries was on security, economy and sports and culture, adding that what was important to him was how African countries could organize themselves to fight terrorism and jihadism
He told President Buhari that there were a lot of challenges at stake in Africa ranging from terrorism, jihadism, migration and so on.
He further stated that the election of President Buhari was one of the great examples of unexpectations where it had been alleged that the result of the election had been written already in favour of the government in power, and expressed optimism that next year's general elections will deliver a message to the world.