Nigeria and India are considering an exchange of prisoners as well as the possibility of diplomatic passport holders of both countries to visit one another without visas.
These are some of the details of the discussions between the governments of both countries during the visit of the Vice-President of India, Mr. Hamid Ansari to Nigeria last week.
India has invited Nigeria to take advantage of the $10 billion concessional loan it offered African countries, going by details of the visit of Ansari which were released in Abuja yesterday by the Indian High Commission.
The new initiatives came as the Federal Government thanked India for a yet-to-be drawn concessional loan of $100 million extended earlier for three power projects in Nigeria. Modalities for an early disbursement are still being worked out.
It was learnt that India has also pledged continued support in technical cooperation and capacity building in sectors of interest to Nigeria, with an increase in training slots under Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) from 200 to 300.
In this regard, the Indian High Commission said Vice President Yemi Osinbajo acknowledged the offers of military training to the Nigerian armed forces, in the spirit of the existing defence cooperation framework between the two countries.
“The two leaders also signed a letter of intent directing their officials to continue negotiations on the agreements or Memorandum of Understanding on renewable energy, transfer of sentenced persons, customs cooperation, and health cooperation. Both sides agreed to explore the possibility of entering into a visa waiver agreement for diplomatic passport holders.
“The vice president of India handed over an invitation from the president of India to president of Nigeria to pay a state visit to India at a mutually convenient date. The president of Nigeria accepted the invitation in principle, and dates will be finalised through diplomatic channels.”
According to the document, the two vice presidents expressed satisfaction with the state of bilateral relations covering political, trade and commercial, defence, social and cultural ties.
They reiterated that the Abuja Declaration for Strategic Partnership of 2007 would continue to provide the framework for deepening the bilateral ties. Both leaders underlined the need to further deepen and expand bilateral cooperation particularly in the areas of energy, infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing and health.
They expressed satisfaction that India is Nigeria’s largest trading partner globally, and Nigeria is India’s largest trading partner in Africa, noting that there are untapped strong areas that need to be harnessed for not only strengthening but diversifying the bilateral trade.
Osinbajo and Ansari noted that international terrorism is a threat to the entire world and condemned the menace in all its manifestations, including violent extremism. Both sides agreed to support the efforts of the international community to collectively fight terrorism and to make concerted efforts for the early finalisation and adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism. They further agreed to intensify their cooperation with each other in this regard.
Expressing satisfaction with the defence cooperation between the two countries, the leaders recognised that further joint efforts in defence and counter-terrorism training is mutually beneficial.