Buhari returns from Belgium, wants more opportunities for Africans

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Saturday evening, returned from a four-day trip to Brussels, the Belgian capital, where he participated in the two-day 6th Europe-Africa Summit.

Buhari returns from Belgium, wants more opportunities for Africans
The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Saturday evening, returned from a four-day trip to Brussels, the Belgian capital, where he participated in the two-day 6th Europe-Africa Summit. Buhari’s aircraft, which left Brussels around 1pm (Nigerian time), arrived at the Presidential wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, around 7pm. While in Belgium, the President had on Thursday published a piece in The Politico calling for a new deal that would prioritise the needs of Africa as a continent and its states. According to him, the high rate of talent drain from Africa, which is provoking political crises in the European Union, cannot be resolved by the Fortress Europe approach. Instead, more opportunities must be created for Africans at home, providing better alternatives to desperate journeys through the Mediterranean. In the piece titled, ‘It’s time for a new economic deal between the EU and Africa’, Buhari argued that the economic relationship between the two continents must be recalibrated to focus on job creation. He said, “When it comes to the relationship between the European Union and Africa, unfair arrangements have long been skated over for lack of alternatives. “Increasingly unsustainable, these one-sided deals have provoked calls from both sides of the Mediterranean for a partnership of equals. At the EU-Africa Summit, leaders from across my continent will gather with their European counterparts to transform such rhetoric into substance. “The EU is currently Africa’s largest trading partner, and Africa is the fastest-growing continent on earth. While each presents the other with great opportunities, as partners, we also share a host of problems. Today, the EU-Africa relationship must be shifted towards a new economic arrangement to address them.” At a bilateral meeting with his Czech counterpart, Milos Zeman, on Thursday, the President accepted an invitation from the European leader to visit his country later in the year. He also welcomed the Czech leader’s interest in more robust collaboration and partnership in military cooperation, especially in equipment, to enhance Nigeria’s security capabilities. Buhari and Zeman renewed mutual commitment towards the joint commission mechanism to enhance a qualitative relationship, diplomatically and people to people. At a roundtable discussion on peace, security and governance, on Friday, Buhari called for stronger support from the EU in the condemnation and imposition of weighty sanctions on countries that engage in unconstitutional change of governments. He maintained that sanctions should also apply to leaders, who manipulate constitutions in favour of extension of term limits. The President also called on European leaders as partners in promoting democracy and good governance to throw their weight behind measures put in place by the African Union to stem the tide of unconstitutional leadership changes on the continent. Buhari also stressed the need to nip the root causes of extremism, conflicts and tensions in Africa at inception. Also, on Friday, Buhari welcomed Nigeria as one of the six countries in Africa designated as manufacturing bases for the COVID-19 vaccine. In his contribution to the roundtable on health systems and vaccine production, Buhari called for collaboration to address the effects of the pandemic saying, “I am delighted to receive the news of the selection of Nigeria among recipients of the MRNA vaccine technology transfer. We shall ensure the best use is made of the opportunity. “Nigeria also offers to host the bio-manufacturing training hub proposed by World Health Organisation. We commit to providing support to make the hub functional in the shortest possible time.” The President returned to the country amid uncertainty over his assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill as well as discussions with progressive governors for a possible consensus candidate as chairman ahead of the February 26 All Progressives Congress national convention.