Honourable Dr. Rajkumar Ranjan Singh
Honourable Minister of State for External Affairs & Education,
Your Excellencies Members of Diplomatic Corps
Fellow Nigerians and friends of Nigeria
Members of the Press
Distinguish Ladies and Gentlemen
All praise to God Almighty who by His mercy and blessing spares our lives to be present at today’s occasion celebrating Nigeria’s 61st Independence anniversary. It is indeed an occasion that filled our hearts with happiness.
Nigeria and India enjoy very warm and friendly bilateral relations. India established its diplomatic presence in Nigeria two years before our independence in 1960. The historic visit to Nigeria by India’s first Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in 1962 still remains the cornerstone of our bilateral relations. Since then, there has been frequent visit to India by a number of Nigerian officials and at the level of Head of State and Government which has helped to further consolidate relations between the two countries.
Both countries also share common similarities as democratic nations, multi-ethnicity, multi-religion as well as the largest democracy in the world and Africa respectively. Our two countries were at the forefront of international anti-colonial and anti-apartheid struggle and closely collaborated in the various international fora and both countries are members of Commonwealth of Nations.
Nigeria is India’s biggest trading partner in Africa and India is one of the largest buyers of Nigerian crude oil. There are about one hundred and thirty-five (135) companies owned and operated in Nigeria by Indians. There are over fifty thousand Indians in Nigeria being the biggest Indian community in West Africa. Nigeria as a biggest economy in Africa has huge investment opportunities as the country is shifting its focus from oil and gas to sectors such as tourism, entertainment, mining, agriculture, infrastructure development, Fintech, ICT, education, health, pharmaceutical among others.
Additionally, there is increase in the demand of Indian goods and services in Nigeria which informed the ever growing commercial and economic ties between the two countries. For instance, the Dangote Group of company project of developing one of the gigantic Petro-chemical and fertilizer complex in the world has several Indian companies associated with the project management, construction and supply of accessories for the two (2) plants. Also, UFLEX group, a specialized packaging company based in Noida (UP) has commenced operation in Nigeria with the vision of introducing recycling technology by converting plastic waste into environmental friendly products.
Your Excellencies, in the overall, India-Nigeria trade and commercial relations remain buoyant and steady.
With regards to defence cooperation, I wish to reiterate the need to sustain and deepen our Joint Defence Consultative Committee Meetings, joint collaboration in development of mine detector technology between the Ministries of defence of Nigeria and India. It will be recall that, the first dialogue on counter-terrorism hosted by India with any African country at the level of the National Security Advisers is a welcome development and should be sustained by both sides.
Your Excellencies, to conclude my speech, I wish to state that, terrorism is no longer a domestic security challenge to be handled by individual countries alone. It is a global phenomenon that has witnessed an extensive collaboration between terrorist organizations worldwide. The need by international community to overcome it, requires honest and practical collaboration between countries especially sharing of timely intelligence on terrorists and their movement, sanctioning and isolating countries that are slow or reluctant to implement global anti-terrorism strategies and laws. As well as adequate provision of arms, logistics and other relevant support to states involved in anti-terrorism campaigns. Above all, synergy between countries is a panacea to a successful anti-terrorism campaign.
At this juncture, I wish to express my appreciation to the Honourable Minister of State for External Affairs and Education of India, Members of Diplomatic Corps, Business community and friends of Nigeria for gracing this occasion. We are indeed honoured and grateful for your presence.
Thank you and God bless.