Buhari concludes Netherlands visit, meets with Nigerian Embassy staffers

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President Muhammadu Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday concluded his official visit to the Netherlands with a meeting with Nigerian Embassy staff before departing for home.

Femi Adesina, the President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity in a statement in Abuja, said the president met with the embassy staff, their families and thanked them for being worthy ambassadors.

The presidential aide said while in the Netherlands, President Buhari on Tuesday delivered the keynote address at the 20th anniversary of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

READ ALSO: Buhari seeks ICC’s support against corrupt Nigerians

The president, at the event, canvassed support for ICC with jurisdiction over serious cases of corruption and illicit financial flows by state actors.

He also used the occasion to assure the international community of a free, fair and peaceful 2019 general elections in Nigeria.

Buhari assured that under his watch, the tragic incidents that characterised the 2011 general elections, necessitating preliminary investigations by the ICC would not happen again in Nigeria.

He also met with Shell CEO and discussions focused on investments in deep water and gas projects in Nigeria, toured the Port of Rotterdam and the Shell Refinery Pernis, Hoogvliet, a borough of Rotterdam, Netherlands.

At the Binnenhof on July 17, the President met with Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands and the two leaders restated their commitment to growing trade partnership between Nigeria and the Netherlands.

During the talks, Rutte described Nigeria as the Netherlands’ most important trading partner, noting that in the field of modern agriculture, there were opportunities for Dutch companies and knowledge institutes.

The two leaders also discussed issues relating to the fight against insurgency in the North-East, climate change, particularly the shrinkage of Lake Chad.

Adesina said the discussion also include economic cooperation, the fight against corruption and a range of other issues of mutual interest.

Buhari welcomed the interest of the Dutch Prime Minister on Lake Chad and commitment to establish a technical committee to work with the Nigerian side on the best approach to address the issue of the receding Lake.

In pursuit of one of the cardinal themes of his administration, the President also met with over 20 Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of Dutch-owned companies.

Buhari assured them of a secured Nigeria where their investments would be safe and yield handsome returns.

The president said: “Stability was the first thing in our campaigns. You have to secure a country first, before you can efficiently manage it.

“Before businesses can thrive, security is paramount. That is why we lay so much emphasis on securing the country.

“After security, our next emphasis is reviving the economy and then, fighting corruption.’’

He commended the many Dutch-owned companies operating in Nigeria for dealing fairly.

The President noted that with many of them, “the relationship dates back more than two generations, and it is now almost a blood relationship rather than commercial.”

In the course of the three-day official visit, the President also met with members of Nigerians in Diaspora Organization (NIDO), the Netherlands Chapter.

He lauded them for their professional and intellectual achievements and contributions to the development of their motherland.

“I am pleased with the quality of people I am seeing. You are high quality people. Congratulations on your personal achievements.”

Among those that met the President was Julius Nnamdi Nwankpa, Chairman NIDO and Dr Mustapha Gidado, a specialist in tuberculosis.

Gidado has oversight over management of the disease in 22 countries and Lola Visser Mabogunje, a performance monitoring expert.

Dr Peter Ngene, a research scientist and Assistant Professor at Utrecht University and Cornelius Obot, a software expert.

Toyin Loyo, an artist and culture enthusiast of international repute also attended the meeting with the president.

On the sidelines of the President’s visit, the Nigerian Foreign Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama and his Dutch Counterpart, Stef Blok, signed a Memorandum of Understanding on bilateral consultations at Schedeldoekshaven, The Hague.

The MOU aims to promote and facilitate relations between Nigeria and the Netherlands in the key thematic areas of security, trade, investment, agriculture, political dialogue and education.

“With the signing of the MOU, Nigeria and Netherlands have agreed to deepen and expand bilateral cooperation in these areas.

Senior officials from both countries will meet at least once every year to assess the progress on mutual benefits,’’ Adesina said.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh led a presidential delegation on a visit to Greenhouse Horticulture in Bleiswijk, one of the experimental greenhouses of Wageningen University and Research (WUR), the Netherlands.

Some of the Dutch most advanced greenhouses are in Bleiswijk and operated by WUR, widely regarded as the world top agricultural research institution.

The Netherlands is the second largest exporter of food, second only to the United States.

Other members of the Presidential delegation that visited the Research centre are: Gov. Simon Lalong of Plateau and Gov. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo state.

The others are the Minister of State, Industry, Trade and Investment, Aisha Abubakar and the National Security Adviser, retired Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno.

According to Adesina, in the course of the visit, the Nigerian delegation interacted with Nigerian postgraduate students studying in WUR.

“Out of 5,900 Msc students studying at Wageningen University, 106 are from Africa of which nine are from Nigeria.

“Wageningen University has 13 Nigerian Ph.D candidates, out of 2,200 candidates, 300 of them are from Africa,’’ Adesina said(NAN)