By John Okeke
King Mohammed VI of Morocco has conferred upon the Nigerian Ambassador to the Kingdom of Morocco, Mr. Baba Garba one of the highest honours of the North African country known as Wissam Al Alaoui, in recognition of the envoy’s efforts towards strengthening the bilateral relations between the two countries.
According to a terse statement from the Nigerian embassy in Morocco, “HM the King decorated with Wissam Al Alaoui of the Order of Commander, Mr. Baba Garba”. The statement said Ambassador Garba was decorated at a ceremony at the Royal Palace in Rabat, the Moroccan capital when the Nigerian envoy paid a courtesy visit to the King.
The statement further revealed that the award took place in the presence of Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation, and Moroccans Residing Abroad, Mr. Nasser Bourita, and the Chambellan of the King, Sidi Mohammed El Alaoui, as well as many other diplomats.
Mr. Garba’s tenure as head of the Nigerian mission in that country witnessed increased in cooperation between Nigeria and the Kingdom of Morocco. The highest points of such increased cooperation were the remarkable state visit of King Mohammed VI to Nigeria in 2016, as well as President Muhammadu Buhari’s reciprocal trip to the Kingdom in 2018. Buhari’s visit to the North African country nearly two years ago was the first of such to be paid by a sitting Nigerian leader since relations were established with Morocco in 1969.
During Buhari’s visit to Morocco in 2018, the two countries signed three agreements to facilitate economic cooperation between the two countries. The agreements include deals on regional gas pipeline, chemical plant and agricultural training.
The Nigeria Morocco Gas Pipeline project, designed to be 5,660km long, is expected to reduce gas flaring in Nigeria and encourage diversification of energy resources in the country, while cutting down poverty through the creation of more job opportunities. The construction of the pipeline was phased and based on increasing needs of the countries crossed, and Europe, for the period of 25 years.
“The NMGP will further encourage utilisation of gas in the sub-region for cooking, and discourage desertification”, a statement issued by Senior Special Assistant on Media to the Nigerian leader, Garba Shehu, said after the signing ceremony in Rabat.
Ambassador Garba has since the presentation of letters of credence for his tenure to the King of Morocco embarked on wide consultations, promoting Nigeria’s foreign policy objectives and concretising relations between both countries.