Abuja The bilateral cooperation between Nigeria and Pakistan began five decades ago and the diplomatic ties have continued to go from strength to strength most notably, in the area of military cooperation, trade relations, cultural exchange and education. It will be recalled that in a bid to expand the cordial relations between the two countries, President Muhammadu Buhari, said that the Nigeria-Pakistan Joint Commission would be revamped as a veritable platform to strengthen economic and trade relations between both countries. President Buhari made the disclosure last year at a bilateral meeting with the then Pakistani Prime Minister, Shahid Khakan Abbasi, on the sidelines of the ninth D-8 summit in Istanbul, Turkey. The President, who was pleased with the level of defence and military cooperation between both countries, agreed with the Prime Minister that there was still room to do more. He, however, regretted that same could not be said on the economic and trade fronts which he said had fallen far short of what can be achieved by both countries. ”Nigeria-Pakistan cooperation is very historical.
Military training has been very consistent and I am impressed by the efficiency of officers trained in Pakistan but the performance of our countries in relation to trade and industrial cooperation had been very disappointing,” he said in a statement issued by his spokesman, Mr Garba Shehu. But he said his administration had identified the problems and was ardently working to promote national development through international trade, industrial growth and the improvement of infrastructure. He also urged Pakistan to take full advantage of the new climate of investment promoted by his administration, saying “there are a lot of opportunities for us to harness in the manufacturing sector, agriculture, commerce, solar energy and the electricity sector.” On his part, the former Pakistani Prime Minister said both countries had similar prospects and challenges, including large population, key regional players in economy and security, fight against terrorism, improving governance and the domestic economy. He said his country would continue to share experiences with Nigeria in the fight against terrorism towards developing effective strategies and results. It is worthy to note that Pakistan has assisted Nigeria in the military hardware. The Super Mushshak Aircraft that Nigerian government used to degrade Boko Haram insurgents in the north-eastern part of the country was supplied by the Pakistani Airforce. Emphasising the flowering ties between the two countries, there have been series of meetings between the defence ministries of Pakistan and Nigeria, including meetings between high-ranking military officials.
Though students exchange programs, trade relations between the two countries are areas identified to improve upon. Meanwhile, the recent visit to Pakistan by Nigerian journalists sponsored by the Pakistani High Commission in Abuja was informed by the urgent need to further strengthen bilateral relations and close the gaps. Speaking in an interview with Nigerian journalists in Islamabad recently, the Nigerian High Commissioner to Pakistan, Maj. Gen (R) Ashimiyu Adebayo Olaniyi, said that he was committed to revamping the trade relations between the two countries. “Trade relations are also there but more needs to be done. We are working on that very rigorously. We have interacted with a lot of Chambers of commerce and industries here such as Islamabad Chambers of Commerce, Lahore and Karachi Chambers of commerce etc. and I have interacted with a lot of business community here in Pakistan. For example, about two months ago, I was in Lahore for Millart tractors where they produce tractors which are used in the agricultural sector of the Pakistan economy.
“So, in terms of agriculture we have so many things in common and I am happy to note that we had to write letters to some of the State Governors in Nigeria and the Ministry of Agriculture, and happy to report that we got response from Federal Ministry of Agriculture through our Foreign Ministry and some States Governors have also responded to our request that they should come and collaborate with these companies in the name of establishing what we call mini plants, so that at the end of the day, it will become something that technology could be transferred so that one day, Nigeria can also benefit from producing some tractors . “We are yet to get there as to when the States Governors or the Federal Ministry of Agriculture officials will visit Pakistan. That is where we are,” he said. In the same vein, the Nigerian envoy said the trade volume between the two countries stands at $1 billion, adding that there are concerted efforts afoot to scale up to about $2 billion very soon. On his part, the Chief Minister, Lahore Province of Pakistan, Hassan Askari Rizvi noted that the both countries have a lot to do to increase the bilateral trade relations.
He said, “We have a lot to do in increasing trade between the two countries because both have a lot of population and the big markets are there. I think that can be done firstly at the government level. “The two governments need to talk to each other and see that trade facilities and procedures available are taken care of. Secondly, they need to encourage the trade and investment of both countries, which is the business and the trading class. They should visit each other delegations from business people. That is business people level. They can now sign a business contract of all trading.” On education, he said, “I think in the past, there were a lot of Pakistani teachers in Nigeria. There is a need to make exchanges for example the students from Pakistan to come to Nigeria and same to Nigeria teachers here. Civil servants from Pakistan can go to civil servant training institutions and Nigerian civil servants come to our own institution. And media is very important because media holds the projects. If these kinds of projects are initiated, we can increase greater interaction.”
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