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Mercoledì 3 febbraio 2016 - Strasburgo Edizione rivista

7. Seduta solenne - Nigeria
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MPphoto
 

  Der Präsident. – Sehr geehrter Herr Präsident Buhari, meine sehr geehrten Damen und Herren, liebe Kolleginnen und Kollegen! Ich heiße den Präsidenten von Nigeria herzlich im Europäischen Parlament willkommen!

Herr Buhari wurde vor knapp einem Jahr, im März 2015, in sein Amt als Präsident gewählt. Nach einer friedlichen und demokratischen Machtübergabe hat er eine sehr umfangreiche Reformagenda vorgeschlagen. Er hat sich in seiner Regierungserklärung verpflichtet, die Korruption in seinem Land zu bekämpfen und in die Wirtschaft zu investieren. Aber vor allem ist er dazu entschlossen, den Terrorismus zu bekämpfen. In Nigeria, das wissen wir alle, sind die grausamen Taten von Boko Haram uns allen im Bewusstsein. Angesichts des unvorstellbar grausamen Anschlags an diesem Wochenende, bei dem nach jetzigem Kenntnisstand 85 Menschen ihr Leben verloren haben, spreche ich Ihnen, Herr Präsident, unser tief empfundenes Mitgefühl und auch unsere Solidarität aus.

Ich habe Herrn Präsidenten Buhari auch versichert, dass wir als Europäische Union und insbesondere als Europäisches Parlament ihn bei seinem Kampf gegen den Terror unterstützen werden. Gleichzeitig wollen wir natürlich auch die Reformen im Lande unterstützen. Und wir sind bereit, gerade hier im Europäischen Parlament, Herr Präsident, dabei zu helfen, dass in die nigerianische Wirtschaft investiert wird und dass wir unseren gemeinsamen Handel ausbauen können.

Ich heiße Sie noch einmal im Namen der Mitglieder des Europäischen Parlaments herzlich willkommen, Herr Präsident, und bitte Sie nun, zu uns zu sprechen.

(Beifall)

 
  
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  Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Mr President, I wish to express my utmost appreciation to the President of the European Parliament, Mr Martin Schulz, for inviting me to address the plenary session of this legislative arm of the European Union. I am honoured and humbled at having been selected to make an address on this occasion.

Let me also bring to the European leaders, parliamentarians and the good people of Europe, a goodwill message from my fellow countrymen and women. The Nigerian people acknowledge with deep appreciation the material and financial sacrifices the European Union, and individual friendly European nations, made towards the conduct of elections and institutionalisation of democratic norms in Nigeria.

As it had done before, the European Union has supported the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the smooth conduct of the last general elections in Nigeria, the outcome of which received worldwide acclamation.

Nigerians noted the huge contributions that Europe has made towards the realisation of acceptable, free and fair elections in our country. Today I will tell this august gathering that European investments are beginning to bear fruit. I am one of the returns on the European investments in the democratisation of Nigeria. Indeed, the present regime is the product of a democratic choice consciously made by the people of Nigeria through the ballot box.

Democracy has come to Nigeria to stay – sooner than many of us would have imagined. Nigeria will be counted among the most stable, strongest and most virile democracies in Africa. There may be strife and stresses, but these can be contained by the safety mechanisms of an electoral democracy.

The events leading to the general elections in Nigeria in the early part of the year 2015 gave strong indications that the country was in trouble. Seeming anger, expressions of vituperation and open animosity, as well as threats and violence unleashed against the electorate, aimed at forcing them to vote for the status quo, were unpalatable developments that brought the stability of Nigeria into question.

The drama that took place at the National Collation Centre was a momentarily frightening situation, unleashed by desperate agents of the status quo with the purpose of maintaining their grip on the national resources for their selfish interests.

The maturity and patience with which the officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission under Professor Attahiru Jega handled the matter saved the struggle for democracy and the huge European contributions. We must thank God that Nigeria survived this drama.

As I have stated in other fora, the actions of Nigeria’s former President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, are commendable. For the first time in the history of Nigeria, a presidential candidate and sitting President conceded electoral defeat in defiance of calls by strong forces, including agents and benefactors of the regime, not to do so.

I do appreciate the special relationship that exists between Nigeria and the European Union. The European Union is Nigeria’s main development partner and the pillar of support for the consolidation of democracy and the economic development of our country.

We in Africa appreciate that your problems are mainly managing prosperity and competition. However, our problems are poverty, disease and technological backwardness. It is not too difficult to appreciate the kind of challenges these problems pose: internal strife, refugees, boat people, drug and human trafficking, etc. Chaos is not a neighbour anybody would wish to have. It is therefore in our collective interest to cooperate and tackle these serious problems in Africa.

I am pleased that we already have the Nigeria-European Union Annual Political Dialogue, which has continued to strengthen our cooperation based on shared values and interests, especially in the areas of peace, security, democracy and good governance. Through this forum we have been able to continue, on a regular basis, to share perspectives on important regional, continental and global issues, with a view to forging common positions.

We are committed to intensifying political dialogue and cooperation in the context of the Nigeria-European Union Joint Way Forward. Both of us believe in peace and security, respect for human rights, democracy and good governance, equality and tolerance, as ways of developing prosperous and strong societies.

Furthermore, in the context of these European Union-Nigeria relations, I wish to acknowledge that the European Union had, severally, condemned the activities of extremist groups, including Boko Haram in Nigeria and in the entire Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

The European Union had noted and commended Nigeria’s development of a National Counter-Terrorism Strategy and the amendment of the country’s Counter—Terrorism Act in demonstration of the Government’s commitment to finding a lasting solution to the threats posed by Boko Haram terror elements. Nigeria appreciates the EU’s collaboration, especially in the area of technical support, capacity-building for security services and provision of development assistance.

For our part, we have updated our rules of engagement in fighting terrorism, and we pay very close attention during operations to the treatment of captured terrorists, to civilians caught up in the conflict and, in general, to safeguarding property. Our aim is to use the minimum force necessary in our fight against terrorists.

In light of this, I wish to seize this opportunity to thank individual European Member States for their assistance towards the success of the Nigerian military onslaught against the Boko Haram terror elements. Many European Union Member States have pledged to support our efforts in the rescue of the kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls. It may interest you to know that in a recent meeting I had with the parents of the Chibok girls, I assured them that the Government would not rest until all the girls are rescued alive and reunited with their families. I remain fully committed to this pledge.

(Applause)

Since my assumption of office in May last year, we have reorganised the Nigerian Armed Forces and repositioned them to deal decisively with the Boko Haram terrorists. Indeed, all the Local Government Areas that were hitherto under the control of the Boko Haram terrorists in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States in the north-eastern flank of Nigeria, have been recaptured.

Internally displaced persons (IDPs) are gradually returning to their communities. The Federal Government is committed to rebuilding schools, hospitals and other vital infrastructure destroyed by the fleeing terrorists. Currently, the activities of Boko Haram have been reduced to the Sambisa Forest, and their capacity to launch major offensives has been degraded. Boko Haram has now resorted to attacking soft targets, such as markets, mosques and churches, using innocent, under-age, hapless children to detonate locally-made improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

I must express our serious concerns about the alarming situation in southern Libya, which is becoming a strategic time bomb for Africa and indeed Europe. The ungoverned swathe of land of southern Libya has become a thriving arms bazaar which threatens the security of the Sahel region, as well as the West Africa region and beyond. We must therefore intensify our efforts to find a lasting solution to the Libyan crisis.

Nigeria is a peace-loving nation and has played a critical role in conflict management and resolution within and outside Africa. Peace-keeping and peace-building have been part of Nigeria’s foreign policy since independence. Nigerian troops have participated in almost all United Nations sub-regional and regional peace-keeping and peace-building operations. In spite of our current security challenges, Nigeria is among the 10 top troop-contributing countries to the United Nations peacekeeping operations around the world, with huge financial and human commitment.

Nigeria’s first outing on peacekeeping operations was to the Congo, as part of the 20 000—strong United Nations Operations in the Congo (ONUC) in July 1960, of which I was privileged to be a member of the contingent in 1963 – barely three months before Nigeria’s independence. Nigeria participated in United Nations operations in the Congo for only three-and-a-half years. It contributed the third largest national force in the Congo, after India and Ethiopia. Since then, Nigeria has maintained a presence in global peacekeeping efforts.

Nigeria has indeed participated in the maintenance of law and order following a mutiny in Tanganyika in 1964. In 1979 and 1982, soldiers of Nigeria’s 21st Infantry Battalion and the 202 Reconnaissance Regiment were deployed to Chad as a peacekeeping force to monitor a ceasefire and inspire confidence in the ongoing peace process.

In addition, it contributed to the largest contingent when the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) was moved to Sierra Leone on a peacekeeping—cum—peace-enforcement mission. The Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group recovered most parts of the country from the rebels and returned the ousted President, Tejan Kabbah, to office on 10 March 1998.

Under the mandate of the African Union, Nigeria embarked on a peacekeeping mission in São Tomé and Príncipe, where it succeeded in persuading dissident soldiers to subject themselves to constitutional authorities. Besides this, Nigeria has also deployed its personnel in Rwanda and in the Darfur Region of Sudan in order to maintain the peace in these two countries.

Nigeria has additionally deployed its contingent to the following African countries: Angola (United Nations Angola Verification Mission); Namibia (United Nations Transition Assistance Group); Mozambique (United Nations Operations in Mozambique); Western Sahara (United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara); Somalia (United Nations Operation in Somalia); and the Auozou Strip (United Nations Aouzou Strip Observer Group).

On migration from Africa to Europe: Nigeria wishes to acknowledge and share the concerns expressed by the European Union with respect to the influx of migrants from Africa through the Mediterranean Sea, with its attendant loss of lives. In this regard, Nigeria will collaborate with the European Union to address illegal immigration to Europe.

The Federal Government of Nigeria is making concerted efforts to address the push factors that propel migration, especially from Nigeria, as both a destination and a transit country. In this year’s budget, the Government has provided for over 500 000 graduate employment positions in the teaching profession alone. We are also collaborating with the states and local governments to strengthen Skills Acquisition Centres, in order to train the teeming youth in various vocational skills so that they can be self-employed and eventually become employers of labour.

We are also making efforts to diversify the economy, giving impetus to agriculture and solid minerals exploitation, to create wealth and employment.

Nigeria welcomes the outcome of the Valletta EU-Africa Summit on Migration, including the launching of the EUR 1.8 billion Emergency Fund to address the root causes of migration from Africa to Europe. Nigeria will work with the countries of the Sahel and Central Africa to submit to the Board of the Emergency Trust Fund the projects that we have identified for funding in due course.

The Common Agenda on Migration and Mobility (CAMM), which Nigeria signed on 12 March 2015 and was indeed the first country to sign from sub-Saharan Africa, is a demonstration of the positive spirit of our cooperation with the European Union in the field of migration and development. It is in the light of this understanding that I wish to propose the reciprocal visa waiver for holders of Nigerian diplomatic and official passports attending official meetings and conferences in Europe.

Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs): the Economic Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, collectively endorsed by the Economic Community of West African States, is yet to be signed by Nigeria and a few others. During Economic Partnership Agreement negotiations, Nigeria raised some pertinent technical issues that are yet to be addressed.

Giving due consideration to the mismatch of the two regions, Europe and ECOWAS, in terms of technology and manufacturing experience, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and Associated Trade Unions raised concerns over the negative impact of EPAs on Nigeria’s industrialisation programme. Nigeria is working towards addressing its own side of the issues. I am therefore urging our European Union partners to also address our own concerns to allow for Economic Partnership Agreements that are mutually beneficial and contribute to the prosperity of our people, in the context of our shared values and interests in promoting cordial bilateral trade relations.

On oil theft and illegal bunkering: Nigeria is facing the challenges of oil theft and illegal bunkering in the Niger Delta, as well as the recovery of illicit funds. It is therefore expedient to raise these issues with you, distinguished parliamentarians. In this regard, Nigeria solicits the cooperation of the European Parliament to support the efforts aimed at stemming these vices.

Our attempts to restore security, curb corruption and fight crime will result not only in improving social stability in Nigeria but will re-open the doors for full economic relations with Europe and the outside world. Those who wish to invest in our country have vast opportunities, and we intend to guarantee the security of people and investments brought to Nigeria.

The whole world recently converged in Paris, France, for the Climate Change Conference (COP21). A positive approach to the issue resulted in mutually-acceptable decisions. The world leaders have forged a common platform in addressing the devastating effects of climate change, particularly in the underprivileged countries across the entire length and breadth of the globe.

During this all-important global event, I declared my country’s position on climate change. I reiterate here that it portends serious threats to Nigeria’s security and development. Nigeria is watching helplessly as Lake Chad dries up. This has monumental consequences for the people living in the Lake Chad basin, whose livelihood has, for generations, been dependent on the resources of the lake. These resources are fast dissipating, throwing communities out of jobs.

It is pertinent to mention that all the states contiguous to Lake Chad are facing the effects of climate change. Collectively, we are under an obligation to face these common challenges. Our collective efforts may not be enough, as we are constrained by the dearth of funds, technology and manpower to initiate the right solutions. We are therefore calling for quick global action to address the issues. Indeed, these will serve in part as panaceas to the issues facing the countries sharing Lake Chad’s resources.

In an effort to find a lasting solution to this problem, Nigeria has contributed the sum of USD 5 million, which has already been used in the conduct of a holistic study on the inter-basin water transfer from the Congo basin to Lake Chad. The study has revealed that the project will require the sum of USD 15 billion to reach completion.

I wish to state that this study has indicated that the proposed Lake Chad project would be able to pay back this huge investment if it is private-sector driven. Against this background, let me invite Parliament to use its good offices by lending its support to the realisation of this laudable project.

I wish once again to express, with all sense of humility, my profound appreciation to the President of the European Parliament, Members of the European Parliament, European leaders and the people of this continent for the honour personally extended to me, and by and large the people of Nigeria, to address the plenary session of one of the largest groups of democracies in the world. I thank you all for this rare honour. Thank you very much.

(Loud and sustained applause)

 
  
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  Der Präsident. – Vielen Dank, Herr Präsident Buhari, für Ihre Rede! Vielen Dank, liebe Kolleginnen und Kollegen, für Ihren Beifall, der auch eine Unterstützung ist für die anstrengende Arbeit, die Präsident Buhari in seinem Land zu erledigen hat.

Ich möchte Ihnen, Herr Präsident, noch einmal herzlich danken, sicher auch im Namen der Kolleginnen und Kollegen, für das große Engagement Ihres Landes im Rahmen der internationalen Verpflichtungen der Vereinten Nationen.

Herzlichen Dank für Ihren Besuch!

(Beifall)

 
  
  

PRÉSIDENCE DE MME SYLVIE GUILLAUME
Vice-présidente

 
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