By Amechi ogbonna
The European Union on Tuesday, pledged to collaborate with the Federal Government to boost agriculture, infrastructure and security as part of measure to stem the tide of illegal migration.
The EU Ambassador to Nigeria and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Ms Samuela Isopi, who stated this at a briefing in Lagos, said the partnership had become necessary to enable the country revive its critical infrastruture and create jobs for its youth population who are leaving the country in droves in search of greener pastures overseas.
She said the EU would be investing in value added agriculture that would make the country’s farmers earn more from their produce than they are currently doing with sale of cash crops.
“EU is concerned about illegal migration which happens because the youth dont have access to opportunities to earn decent living in their country. So we have to tackle migration within Nigeria and Africa and so far our dialogue with the government has been quite good.” She said
Isopi said: “We are working to support the government to address security challenges in the area of farmers/herder clashes, oil bunkering and others.
“Nigeria needs to create the appropriate environment to attract investments in the several sectors of the economy.”
The ambassador said the EU was also focusing on investments in the oil and gas as well as agriculture sectors as key drivers of the Nigerian economy.
She said about seven milk producing companies in Nigeria are currently working with the government and private sector to develop local capacity and supply chain in milk production to reduce dependency on imports.
On the oil and gas sector she said “We want to wean ourselves from dependence on gas from Russia. By continuing to buy gas from Russia, we will continue to support their economy.
“We are reaching out to the Nigerian government and other African countries including Senegal, Angola and Mozambique as alternatives. “But we are confronted by the issues of inadequate infrastructure, vandalism, banditry and kidnapping. That’s why we are collaborating with the Nigerian government,” said Isopi.
Isopi, who described the EU bloc as Nigeria’s biggest trading partner, said the European bloc accounted for 20.9 per cent of Nigeria’s trade with the rest of the world.
She added that the EU accounted for 25.4 per cent of Nigeria’s exports to the global market, and was Nigeria’s second largest import destination, accounting for 16.1 per cent of the country’s total imports.
According to her, key issues militating against investments in Nigeria would be tackled at the 8th EU-Nigeria Business Forum, themed ‘Nigeria and the New Economy,’ scheduled to hold in Lagos from June 30 to July 1.
“This year’s event will focus on three key sectors: backward integration policy of the Nigerian government; opportunities to increase gas exports to Europe; and new initiatives in the agricultural sector. “While these sectors are not new, the potential in them remains largely untapped.