Netherlands recognises Nigeria as Africa’s most important country

Timothy Choji, Abuja

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Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte says Nigeria is taking its place as Africa’s most important country.

He says Nigeria is doing so by defending democracy thus, ensuring stability in West Africa and the entire African continent at large.

Addressing State House Correspondents after holding bilateral talks with his host, President Muhammadu Buhari, the Dutch Prime Minister said Nigeria and the Netherlands have a lot to benefit from their strong ties.

He said: “Despite the fact that we have so many differences, we have a lot to offer each other, be it politically, economically or culturally. Politically, Nigeria is taking its responsibility as one of Africa’s most important countries by playing a leading role in the region and in this way, defending democracy in West Africa and I have deep respect for the way Nigeria is doing this.”

Prime Minister Rutte saids he looks forward to working together with President Buhari to strengthen relations between his country and Nigeria.

The Dutch Prime Minister, who is visiting Nigeria for the first time, said he was very impressed with the reception accorded him as well as the size of Nigeria.

“It’s an honour to be here in Nigeria. It’s my first visit to Nigeria and like I said at the lunch meeting, I am very impressed. Everything in this country is huge, is big. It’s 20 times the size of the Netherlands and more people live in Lagos than the whole of my country,” he said.

Mr Rutte noted that Nigeria was doing well in promoting international law.

“I also want to express my appreciation for Nigeria’s active role in promoting international law in the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Our countries, Nigeria and Netherlands share the believe that international law contributes to a fair and safer world.

We were also working together on the issue on migration that is why the minister of migration is part of my delegation and my country is looking forward to continuing this excellent partnership,” Rutte stated.

He also said his country was looking into ways of helping Nigeria address humanitarian crisis in the North-East, adding that the Lake Chad would be recharged.

“Yes. We discussed at length the situations both in the Netherlands as well as in Nigeria and also what is happening in the different regions. And we try to be involved as much as possible. As we have this long-standing relation between our two countries, we have a very active embassy here, there is a very active ambassador in the European and the Dutch side and from the Nigeria, we can work together and we can deal with these issues, some these things are very practical.

“For example, we discussed in 2018 at length one issue, the Lake Chad question and we what we can do together. We hosted a meeting in the Netherlands this year on Lake Chad and what we can do in the immediate future. From the most treacherous issue, what can we do in the immediate future or use some of the Dutch expertise in terms of water, you know you have to call us if it is too much or not enough, if it is too clean or not too clean we can help you.

“Out of this meeting came some beautiful recommendations on how to deal with the Lake Chad issue, the Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon issue. One is what can we do to work on the regional economy, secondly, what can we do to maintaining the water which is still here and thirdly, the use is water supply in such a way that it supplies to the local community. And as the President was saying I think about 30 million people are depending on the lake itself and the economy coming out of it.

Secondly, we can learn from you, this is two ways because you have been dealing with this issue, we can get a lot of insights to the issues we are facing as a country,” he said.

Omolayo.A