Nigeria and Ethiopia have signed a visa waiver agreement for diplomatic and official passport holders, and a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, on cooperation in the field of defence.
President Muhammadu Buhari and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed witnessed the signing of the agreement Tuesday in Addis Ababa by their Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama and Gedu Andargachew, respectively, during the State Visit of the Nigerian leader.
Earlier, while meeting with the Ethiopian Prime Minister, President Buhari had discussed how to explore new areas of collaboration to further enhance and expand Nigeria-Ethiopia bilateral cooperation for the mutual benefits of the two countries.
A statement signed by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu explained that “The visa waiver agreement is expected to ease travels by officials and contribute to further strengthening of bilateral relations.”
He said that the Memorandum of Understanding on Defence Cooperation was important to both countries in the coordination of efforts in the fight against terrorism and securing peace and stability in their respective sub-regions, as well as on the continent of Africa.
“The MoU will also enhance bilateral military cooperation in the areas of training and education, technical assistance, exchange of visits and defence technology transfer.
“It also entails cooperation in peace support operation issues within the framework of the respective laws of the Parties and on a reciprocal basis,” he said.
He said both sides agreed to swiftly conclude negotiations on the revised Bilateral Air Services Agreement and the MoU on cultural cooperation.
“The consummation of these two agreements will provide veritable platforms for deepening existing air transport services, tourism and cultural exchanges between the two countries,” he said. President Buhari expressed gratitude to the Government and People of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia for the warm and generous hospitality extended to him and his delegation during the visit.
He further extended an invitation to Prime Minister Ahmed to pay a reciprocal State Visit to Nigeria on mutually convenient dates.
Meanwhile, President Buhari has declared that robust cooperation between Nigeria and Ethiopia would provide a strong pillar for African integration.
Speaking at a state dinner in his honour in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the President said as the two most populous countries on the continent, Nigeria and Ethiopia shared similar challenges, stressing that it has become imperative for both countries to strengthen and expand cooperation at all levels and in all areas.
He noted that this would give concrete effect to the African Continental Free Trade Area, AfCFTA.
The Nigerian leader in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, said his state visit to Ethiopia, fondly called The Cradle of Humanity, focused on how to further boost relations and explore new areas of cooperation between the two countries.
He said: ”Relations between Nigeria and Ethiopia have been warm and cordial since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1964. Currently, a ministerial joint commission meeting is taking place between Nigeria and Ethiopia to finalise documents for our consideration.
”I am confident that the meeting will produce a fruitful outcome which will elevate relations to a higher level.”
President Buhari also extolled his host for bringing transformation to the country, describing his work as that of a visionary leader.
He used the occasion to congratulate Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed again on the richly deserved Nobel Peace Prize.
He said: ”Your visionary leadership has seen an amazing transformation of your country in such a short period of time,” President Buhari said.
In his remarks, the Ethiopian Prime Minister described President Buhari’s visit as historic, noting that it represented a new height in the historical relationship between the two countries.
”We have had fruitful discussions today with President Buhari on a wide range of issues of common interest and experience between our two countries.
”We have explored how to enhance investments, trade, tourism, aviation cooperation and energy development,” he said.
The Prime Minister expressed the readiness of Ethiopia to exchange lessons with Nigeria on asset recovery and repatriation of stolen funds, given Nigeria’s success in the area and the fight against corruption.
Prime Minister Ahmed added that Ethiopia also had a lot to learn from Nigeria on national unity, peaceful co-existence and religious diversity.
”Ethiopia is facing big challenges in this regard and our party leadership will like to learn from Nigeria on how to tackle this challenge and to unify Ethiopia, East Africa and the continent at large,” he said.
The Prime Minister also called for the strengthening of the roles of G-4 countries namely Nigeria, Ethiopia, Algeria and South Africa, in leading the continent politically and economically, thereby providing peace, prosperity and stability to their respective countries and the continent.