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‘Nigeria’s stability important to Africa’

What is the level of the bilateral relations between Nigeria and Sudan?The relationship between Sudan and Nigeria is historically deeply rooted dating back to many…

What is the level of the bilateral relations between Nigeria and Sudan?
The relationship between Sudan and Nigeria is historically deeply rooted dating back to many years when Nigerians used to cross Sudan to Mecca in Saudi Arabia for pilgrimage. Many of them stayed in Sudan and did not come back to Nigeria. Now we have a few million Nigerians in Sudan. In fact the biggest Nigerian community outside Nigeria is in Sudan. They are about 8 million people. We think that this in itself is a reason why we should promote the relations between the two countries. So far, we have a very amicable and cordial relationship apart from the fact that we haven’t really develop areas where we could promote the relationship between Nigeria and Sudan to a higher level. My belief is that Nigeria and Sudan have got the resources, the people, the land and if the two countries synergise with each other and come together, I think they can definitely become giant within the continent.
Now things have started to move between Sudan and Nigeria. In February this year, the Bi-national Commission meeting of Sudan-Nigeria was convened in Khartoum and the Nigerian team was headed by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sudan. I think about eleven agreements were concluded and signed on consultation  on medicine, defence, agriculture, education, tourism, investment promotion, immigration and so on.
Aliko Dangote has been to Sudan and we have some Sudanese who are working for him in the sugar sector and that is how we roll on the relationship between private sectors. In addition to that, we have many agreements with some states in Nigeria. Also, the Sokoto State Governor was in Sudan recently where he visited many places including the sugar factories. We also signed an MoU on educational relationship between Sokoto State and educational institutions in Sudan. Also we had an agreement with Bauchi State to share experiences in some areas between Sudanese institutions.

An agreement has also been signed between Aljazeerah University and Kano State to provide educational support.
Looking at the agricultural potentials of both countries, in what specific ways do you think they can work together to achieve food security and in Africa as a whole?
We have got plenty of options apart from the export. We can talk about the development of animal resources to provide milk and other by-products. We can talk about groundnut, sesame, essential vegetables and many other farm produce and gum arabic which is something both countries grow and develop expertise on.

What form would the educational agree-ment signed with some states in Nigeria take?
We can have Nigerian students trained in my country and as I mentioned earlier we have got a few thousands of Nigerian students studying presently in Sudan institutions. One of the attractive institutions to Nigerians in Sudan is Harvard Girls University and most Nigerians will want to take their daughters there to study. Apart from that University, we have others particularly in the field of medicine, engineering and so on. We have very proficient people. Some universities here have asked for lecturers to come from Sudan to support university education in Nigeria like what we have in the past when universities have a number of Sudanese professors.
How soon would the MoU be implemented?
We have already started that now. We have been to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to follow up. High level committee should be formed in both countries to prepare modalities for the execution and the person in charge of it at the Nigeria Ministry of Foreign Affairs said they are definitely serious about it and that they are ready to start the implementation of what is in the agreements.

What is your view about Nigerian community in Sudan?
They are Sudanese because they enjoy all the rights our citizens enjoy. In fact some of them are in politics, some are in commercial sector, some are in the education sector and many other fields of endeavour and they are all doing well. With the big number of Nigerians in Sudan we have never seen such a peaceful coexistence between Sudanese and Nigerians.
Does your country have any trade relation with Nigeria and if yes, what is the volume?
Yes but very small. What we are working on is how to develop this area between our two countries and we are suggesting to our governments that the rail system should be worked on which linked Chad to Nigeria from Sudan and goes all the way to Senegal supported by the African Development Bank and we hope that it works out because if it is completed it is going to boost the trade relations between Sudan and Nigeria. Now we are trying to connect Lagos and Sudan Ports as gateways and I think this will also promote the trade relations between us. This is one of the areas that requires a lot of work.

Looking at the insecurity in Nigeria now, has it affected your country in any way like other neighbouring countries?
Of course we are very much concerned with it because we think that stability of Nigeria will mean stability of the entire continent. Therefore it is very important to find solution to the problem because what happens in Nigeria will affect other places in the same way. Nigeria supports Sudan very much in its peace process. Nigeria was there during our issue with the South, Darfur and eventually we managed to deal with those conflicts with the biggest help from Nigeria. We also got biggest military presence in Sudan with the highest of it coming from the Nigeria peace effort and that is why we hope that we see a stable Nigeria. Nigeria stability is important for us and the entire continent. Obviously from our experience, we have had long experience in facing a similar situation like Nigeria and I think we could definitely provide help in this direction. We managed to put an end to insurgency in the South.

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