Manmohan Singh calls for an Indo-Nigerian partnership in 21st century

November 14th, 2007 - 2:17 am ICT by admin  
Abuja (Nigeria), Oct.15 (ANI): Addressing the joint session of the Nigerian National Assembly here today, visiting Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh called for an Indo-Nigerian partnership in the 21st Century, and added that for the partnership to flourish, “we have to encourage and promote broad based exchanges covering all facets of our relationship.”

He said that the partnership would be based on the fundamental principles of equality, mutual respect and mutual benefit.

Emphasizing that India and Africa have a shared destiny and a common future, the Prime Minister said: “I am deeply honoured by this opportunity to address you here today in this new temple of your democracy. I am also delighted to be in this beautiful city of Abuja, which symbolizes a dynamic Nigeria and a new dawn in the life of an ancient people.”

In the past, we have shared the pain of subjugation and the joy of freedom and liberation. We have worked shoulder to shoulder in the fight against apartheid and racial discrimination. We have worked together in the Non-Aligned Movement to promote South-South cooperation for development. Today, we need to stand ever more united to meet the challenges of the new millennium,” he added.

He further went on to describe India is the largest democracy in the world and Nigeria as the largest democracy in Africa.

“We are multi-religious, multi-ethnic and multi-lingual societies. Our societies embrace modernity while preserving their traditions. There is a natural logic in ties between our two countries. The principal challenge before us remains the socio-economic development of our people. The information revolution and higher levels of literacy have raised popular expectations. Disparities are leading to social tensions. Economic growth has to be accompanied by a better distribution of its benefits,” he said.

“We are approaching the fiftieth year of the establishment of our diplomatic relations. There can be no better occasion than this to launch a Strategic Partnership between India and Nigeria. It will be anchored in the past and look to the future. This is a partnership for economic growth. There are many complementarities in our rapidly growing economies. Nigeria is already India’s largest trading partner in Africa, but we need to vastly expand and diversify our trade,” he added.

“Our two countries can promote transfer of technologies in key areas of the knowledge economy like information technology and biotechnology. Small and medium industry can play a key role. Our partnership is for development. We need to share experiences on effective strategies for sustainable development, poverty alleviation, healthcare facilities and universal education. In this context, being largely agrarian societies, there is great potential for cooperation in agricultural research, soil and water management and food processing,” Dr. Singh said.

“It is a partnership for energy security. Energy security is a vital prerequisite for sustained growth. Nigeria’s rich natural resources provide the base for our mutually beneficial cooperation for energy security. India and Nigeria should also promote research and development inefficiency of energy production, clean technologies and renewable sources of energy. Ours is a partnership for peace, stability and security. Without peace, there cannot be sustained economic progress. Both India and Nigeria seek peace and stability in their neighbourhood. Nigeria’s contributions to conflict resolution in Africa are well known,” he added.

On the issue of terrorism, Dr. Singh described it as a grave threat to humankind, and called on the Nigerian Government to upgrade the level of cooperation on security matters to meet emerging threats and challenges to “our social fabric”.

In the final analysis , he said that the partnership should be used to steer the global political and economic agenda towards addressing the legitimate concerns of developing countries.

He also said that the structure and functioning of the United Nations should reflect contemporary global realities.

“For this partnership to flourish we have to encourage and promote broad based exchanges covering all facets of our relationship. Leaders in government, parliament, industry and civil society in both our countries have to commit themselves to making this partnership work,” Dr. Singh said.

“I believe that India and Africa have a shared destiny and a common future. Ours is a relationship that must now be brought to full bloom. Let us work together to make this happen,” he concluded. (ANI)

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