LAHORE - President Mamnoon Hussain will visit Nigeria next month to cement bilateral relations and boost cooperation between the two countries in many sectors, especially energy, defence, agriculture and textiles, said Nigerian envoy to Pakistan.

During the upcoming visit of President Mamnoon Hussain, high-level exchanges are on the cards to explore opportunities for cooperation in energy, defence, civil aviation, agriculture and textiles.

Nigerian Ambassador to Pakistan Dauda Danladi has said that large scope of cooperation existed between Nigeria and Pakistan in the field of trade and business.

Danladi, while responding to the queries of The Nation Editor Salim Bokhari and Waqt TV Director News Hafiz Tariq, during his visit to Nawa-i-Waqt Group office here on Saturday, said Pakistan and Nigeria shared commonalities in a number of areas. The two countries are members of the UN, Commonwealth, OIC and D-8 and a number of Pakistanis have been working in Nigeria since 60s. He said Nigeria is rich in oil and gas while Pakistan has a lot of expertise, particularly in agriculture and textile sectors, and both the countries can mutually benefit from each other. He said Nigeria was a thriving economy of Africa and wanted attention of Pakistan which hitherto had paid much to Asia and Europe.

He said Pakistan needed energy and Nigeria can help it in a big way. The ambassador also underscored the need for people-to-people contacts and contacts at the level of chambers and business community not only for the sake of promoting trade and business ties and to attract investment to each other but to counter the negative narratives about this country as well.

He said before he took over in 2012, situation was not much good but in a year much headway has been made in this direction. He said Nigeria is revolutionising its agriculture to bring 79 milion acres of land under cultivation and Pakistan can help a lot in this regard through machinery and know-how.

Similarly, he said Pakistan has also a big textile sector which can have share in the Nigerian textile imports to the tune of $ eight billion a year. Danladi also invited Pakistanis to invest in fertilizer sector of Nigeria which has vast reserves of gas, adding Nigeria can not only meet the need of its own but also that of Pakistan and Asia. He said Nigeria had set up export zones and a duty system to the benefit of investors.

About the cooperation between the two countries on defence side, he termed it appreciably encouraging and said their services chiefs had been exchanging visits and Nigerian senior officers are passing out from the National Defence College, Islamabad. He appreciated Pak-China manufactured JF-17 aircraft while mentioning National Industrial Complex being built in Nigeria.  To a question on the ‘negative narratives’ against Pakistan, the ambassador said they are somewhat exaggerated as security problems confront every state at various degrees. He said he visited chambers in various cities of Pakistan and went to Balochistan and other parts, but nowhere found threats of security.

He mentioned the President of Pakistan’s visit to Nigeria in January 2014 and said during that visit exchange of views are expected on establishing Business Forum, PTA, besides signing of MoUs in different sectors and finding out means to promote business ties at the government and individual businessmen level. He said Nigeria which has vast manpower and natural resources has opened itself to the world and Pakistan can also benefit from this opportunity.

Responding to a question on the law and order situation in Nigeria, he said today the world had become a global village and added with reference to Afghanistan situation that effect on one part inevitably reaches another. He said for Nigeria, peace in Afghanistan is of vital import, so it also wants Pakistan to play a key role in this regard. He said Nigerian government has adopted effective measures to keep activities of the extremist parties under control. He said as an OPEC and African Union member, Nigeria is pursuing the policy of respecting sovereignty of every country and non-interference in the affairs of others.  When asked if Nigeria also faces the same US pressure as does Pakistan, he said in the name of human rights violation or others, many face it directly or indirectly through the UN.

To a question on the US drone attacks on the Pakistan soil, he passed careful remarks that this matter should be settled through negotiations and in an amicable manner.