President Muhammadu Buhari has commended the Republic of France for its commitment to strong regional cooperation in the fight against terrorism and cross-border crime in West Africa.
He made the remark on Friday at a farewell audience with the outgoing Ambassador of France to Nigeria, Mr Denys Gauer, at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
The President also appreciated the roles and contributions of the French government to peace, security and stability in countries in the sub-Saharan region, as well as Central Africa.
He said Nigeria has placed the issue of combating terrorism in the region on international agenda and has received support and solidarity from France in the area of training, information, intelligence sharing, technical and equipment support.
President Buhari noted the regional level where Nigeria was conducting joint patrols with neighbouring countries under the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF).
He was happy that France has continued to encourage regional cooperation among the nation’s francophone neighbours, aimed at addressing the security challenges and humanitarian conditions in the area.
The President also used the opportunity of the farewell visit to formally congratulate France for winning the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
“The victory is very important and historic for the country and I think it has raised a lot of positive optimism for French citizens,” he said in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.
President Buhari recalled the recent visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to Nigeria, saying both countries would continue to maintain cordial ties and improve economic, cultural and political relations for their mutual benefit.
Highlighting the positive trends in the nation’s economy, the French Ambassador told the President that more companies in his country have indicated interest to do business in Nigeria.
He also revealed that the French Agency for Development (AFD), which opened an office in Nigeria 10 years ago, has provided a total of $2billion facility for projects in the country.
On cultural ties, Mr Gauer said France has concluded arrangements to establish a cinema school in Lagos and some museums around the country, in addition to formalising an agreement on film production.
He added that he would always keep fond memories of Nigeria and wished the country successful elections in 2019.
Similarly, President Buhari received the outgoing Finland Ambassador to Nigeria, Ms Pirjo Suomela-Chowdhury, at the State House.
He underscored the Finnish government’s support to gender and educational issues in Nigeria.
In her remarks, Ambassador Suomela-Chowdhury told the President she enjoyed her stay in Nigeria and would continue to promote Nigeria-Finnish relations.