The French President, Mr Emmanuel Macron, on Tuesday, at a press conference after his meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, expressed his country’s readiness to assist African countries to overcome their security challenges.
He, however, said France would not be the one to completely fix African problems.
He said, “I think the main plan is an African plan and France is not the one to solve or fix African situations.
“So, what we want to do is that we will intervene and make our presence in Africa and Sahel to fight against terrorism especially in Mali and in the region.
“We will stay as long as it is requested by our friends, especially Mali. We discussed yesterday (Monday) about this issue.
“But what is important to me is how the different African governments organise themselves to fight against terrorism and get rid of these people and especially Jihadism. That’s why I do promote the G5/Sahel Initiatives and I think as far as we are organised, Nigeria, Niger, Chad, and Cameroon is very important.”
Macron said it was important for countries to increase the pressure against Jihadists.
“We can fix the situation in the coming month and obviously France will remain present in Mali for as long as they want it.
“But when I look at the past months, we have increased our resource and delivered concrete results in the north and west Mali with positive outcomes,” he added.
Meanwhile, Buhari and Macron witnessed the signing of a letter of intent for the financing of the urban mobility improvement programme initiated by the Lagos State Government.
The signing took place at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, during a bilateral meeting between the two leaders.
The letter of intent of the equivalent of $200m is related to a potential loan by the French Development Agency to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
It was signed by the AFD’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Remy Rioux, and the Nigerian Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun.
The project seeks to develop eight priority bus corridors connected to the mass transit network (urban train and high-level service bus with a total length of 41 kilometres).
It will also create two multimodal interchange hubs and functional integration of four public transport modes- urban train, high-level bus service, water transport lines and bus lines, planning and management capabilities of the transportation system.
The project which follows the successful urban development of the second Lagos BRT project, already funded by AFD, is aimed at contributing to Lagos sustainable urban development through the deployment of a public transport network combining quality service, efficiency, accessibility, reliability, safety, reduction of polluting emissions and socio-economic and financial sustainability.
It also aimed at giving 1,500,000 inhabitants access to quality transportation.
The two leaders also witnessed the signing of a credit of facility agreement of $75m in order to improve water supply in Kano city.
This concessional loan was awarded by AFD to the Federal Government to allow Kano State to develop an effective and sustainable water supply service.
The project mainly comprises the rehabilitation and densification of the network, rehabilitation of the main water production facilities and supporting consumer awareness campaign.
Macron also justified his decision to visit the Afrika Shrine in Lagos during his visit to Nigeria.
“First, because I wanted to find a good occasion to come back there. I know the place and I have some memories, I have to confess at a time that there was no President around; I hope I will not spoil the party.
“I think that is such an iconic place for a lot of African people and African culture. And I think very often when you speak of the African culture in Europe, those who succeed in Europe and in France, which is different most of the times, are not dramatically very famous in Nigeria or in Africa.”
“There is a bias because you know people are absolutely not the same. I mean Fela, Femi, Seun Kuti are obviously very famous in France and Europe, I mean they are big successes but the Shrine is a cultural hub, an iconic hub and is very important for me first on a personal level, and that is why I want to say with a lot of humility that I recognise the importance of this place; I recognise the place of culture in this current environment,” he said.
Buhari said the issues of security and economic integration came up during his discussion with Macron.
He thanked the French President for his commitment and understanding as it concerns Nigeria and the region.
He said it was a good idea that Macron would be visiting the Africa Shrine in Lagos.