From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, and Canadian Deputy Prime Minister, Chrystia Freeland, have agreed on the need for deepening bilateral relations between Nigeria and Canada, with a focus on improving trade, strengthen ongoing educational collaboration, continuing dialogue on the global energy transition issues and climate change.
According to a by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity Office of the Vice President, Laolu Akande, this was the highlight of the meeting between both leaders in Ottawa, the capital of the North American country on Monday.
During his interaction with top Canadian parliamentarians, including senators and cabinet members led by Freeland, Osinbajo noted that, “we are hoping for much more that we can do together.”
Freeland, who is also his country’s Finance Minister, had earlier expressed similar sentiments while welcoming the Vice President.
She observed that the Canadian government values its relationship with Africa, especially Nigeria, and has been “looking forward to this visit for a long time,” adding that the relationship with Nigeria is “very important to us.”
On the global net zero emissions targets, and energy transition, Osinbajo reaffirmed the view that gas ought to be adopted as a transition fuel, a notion he said garnered traction at the recent COP27 conference in Egypt, even though still widely unacknowledged in the West.
“We believe we must use our gas as transition fuel; we have huge gas reserves. We would like to continue to use our gas during the transition,” he said while explaining that the Federal Government’s Energy Transition Plan is focused on renewable energy, including the ongoing Solar Power Naija Programme, which was launched under the Economic Sustainability Plan.
Responding, the Canadian Deputy Prime Minister, who wondered whether countries such as Nigeria are already struggling to get financing for gas projects said, “we will be happy to keep talking with you on that, ” adding that the use of Natural Gas makes sense, and noting that the dialogue should continue.
Both leaders exchanged notes on some of the common and peculiar economic challenges in their respective countries, including fiscal and monetary challenges, subsidies, financial inclusion, social investments programmes and strategies to support the vulnerable, among others.
Osinbajo and Freeland also discussed the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), observing that the market provided opportunities for mutual benefits, not only for African countries, but also Canada which is desirous of contributing to its development and also tapping into the continental market.
Besides Freeland, other top parliamentarians who met with the VP at the meeting included the Honourable Ahmed Hussen – Minister of Housing, Diversity and Inclusion; the Honourable Marci Ein – Minister for Women and Gender Equality; the Honourable Rob Oliphant – The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs; MP Michael Coteau – Member of Parliament for Don Valley East in Toronto; Senator Marie-Françoise Mégie – Senator from Quebec and Senator Hassan Yussuff – Senator from Ontario.
On the VP’s team were Ambassador Adeyinka Asekun – the Nigerian High Commissioner to Canada; Dr. Adeyemi Dipeolu – Special Adviser to the President on Economic Matters; Mrs. Maryam Uwais – Special Adviser to the President on Social Investment; Dr. Jumoke Oduwole – Special Adviser to the President on Ease of Doing Business; Ambassador Abdullahi Gwary – Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs; and Mr. Laolu Akande, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity.
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