(Rt)His Excellency Sergio Mattarella, the President of Italian Republic and His Excellency Mfawa Abam, the Ambassador of Nigeria to Italy .
By John Okeke
The Italian government offers to give COVID-19 vaccination to Nigerians resident in Italy as well as Nigerians on visit to Italy. Italy is one of the countries that have aggressive vaccination policy put in place.
His Excellency Sergio Mattarella, the President of Italian Republic made the declaration when he receives letter of credence from His Excellency Mfawa Omini Abam, Nigerian Ambassador to Italy at the Quirinal Palace, Rome Italy on Monday 14th June 2021.
President Mattarella who emphasized the need to improve on the diplomatic relations of Italy and Nigeria, said he is happy to receive Abam at this point in time when his country has decide to pursue aggrieve investment in Nigeria. The President assured the Nigerian government that the Italian government will increase cooperation and partnership in Nigeria in all areas. He assured that Italy will collaborate more in terms of construction, training college students and security personnel, as well as in the oil and gas sector. He also averted that his country will look at the Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) has brought forward by the envoy.
President Mattarella said that majority of Nigerians in Italy are law abiding, as such the Italians feel comfortable living with them. He also revealed that his government will continue collaborate with Nigerian government in term of security training to combat terrorism globally.
Earlier in his remarks, His Excellency Mfawa Abam, the Ambassador of Nigeria to Italy conveyed the greetings of President Muhammadu Buhari to his Italian counterpart. In his words,” I have the distinct honour to extend to Your Excellency and the good and friendly people of Italy, the fraternal greetings and goodwill of your friend and brother, His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Ambassador Abam reminded the Italian President of the need to rejig the BASA agreement between the two countries that has been abandoned.
According to the Ambassador, “Nigeria and Italy have subsisting bilateral agreements in various fields which are meant to promote our ties. However, many of such agreements have become obsolete and moribund due to non-implementation. Of particular interest is the Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) which was to give impetus to direct flights between our two countries in order to boost trade and investment. Since Alitalia stopped its operation in Nigeria, there has been noAirline operating the route between Italy and Nigeria. Our people suffer untold hardship travelling for hours and days through third countries.”
The Nigerian Ambassador continued that Nigeria as a country will continue to play her role in Africa as the largest economy focusing on peaceful coexistence, and will continue to work with Italy. In his words, “As the giant of Africa, Nigeria will never relent in its quest to ensure peace in Africa, contribute to the United Nations peace keeping activities and work with Italy in protecting and promoting sustainable world security and peace. The government and people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria acknowledge the enormous contribution made by Italy to promote peace in Africa.”
Ambassador Abam lamented the drop in the Italian companies’ operations in Nigeria in the last 15 years, and promised to do everything possible in his capacity as the Nigerian Ambassador to Italy to bring a total turn around. According to him, “Nigeria is the largest trading partner to Italy in the whole of Africa. It is most regrettable, however, that there has been a noticeable drop in the number of Italian Companies operating in Nigeria in the last 15 years. It is, therefore, my intention to revive our economic ties during my stay in Italy as Ambassador”.
In order to achieve high level bilateral engagements among the two nations, Abam said, “To carry our relations to greater heights, we must develop a mechanism for frequent meetings between officials of our two countries. On this note, it is my suggestion that a Bi-National Commission between Nigeria and Italy should be held yearly to deliberate on key areas and issues that can foster close collaboration between us. Such Commissions will also involve genuine investors and businessmen of the two countries to bond them and encourage joint-investments and partnerships”