From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has thanked Mayor of Lisbon, Fernando Medina, and City Council Members, for accommodating Nigerians as well as those fleeing the war in Ukraine.
According to a statement by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, Buhari, used the occasion to meeting to congratulate Medina and his party on their electoral victory and his emergence as the Mayor of Lisbon.
He expressed his gratitude to the Mayor for receiving the Nigerian delegation in the ‘beautiful and historic coastal city of Lisbon,’ commending the excellent manner the city is administered, as a prime global tourist destination.
‘‘The city of Lisbon shares a number of similarities with some Nigerian cities such as Lagos, the former capital of Nigeria, whose name was given by the Portuguese explorer Rui de Sequeira, who visited in 1472, naming the area around the city, Lago de Curamo, which means Lake of Curamo.
‘‘Both cities are rich in history and are also commercial nerve centres that host multinational corporations, industries, and major seaports. We are optimistic that these shared features can be harnessed to promote increased trade and people-to-people contact for the benefit of our two countries.
‘‘Nigeria, like Portugal, has many unique, historic, and cultural assets, as well as a developing hospitality industry, which both countries can exploit to promote tourism.
‘‘We are also keen to establish a direct air link between our two countries to further stimulate tourism, people-to-people contact and social, sporting and cultural relations,’’ he said.
President Buhari highlighted that Nigeria has made great strides in diversifying its economy beyond oil and gas, recording successes in agriculture, manufacturing, infrastructural development, among others.
He, therefore, invited prospective investors to Nigeria as the next top investment destination, saying ‘‘we are ready to extend our bilateral trade beyond oil and gas.
Earlier in his welcome remarks, the Mayor of Lisbon, extolled Nigeria’s greatness, especially in her ability to turn diversity into greatness: “We have one thing in common. We believe diversity is key. Nigeria is a great nation. Former President Obama said that about you, that you strive to overcome division and turn Nigeria’s diversity into a source of strength, so you are able to build the largest economy in Africa. I so much agree with that.
“Diversity is a matter of innovation and that’s why we both have excellent innovation ecosystems. You have just opened one of the biggest Urea plants, I think the second in the world and the largest fertilizer centre in Africa making your country self-sufficient.”
“You have produced five out of the seven unicorns, the big companies in Africa. You have one of the biggest projects on biometrics identification that has helped the banking system with relevant contributions for some Portuguese companies. So we want to work with you and your innovators. We need you. We need the African continent. We need to work with you peer to peer.”
He informed President Buhari of his plan for Portugal to launch a “Unicorn Factory” in Lisbon and his desire to “have those African, Nigerian unicorns with us. Young people that could work with Portuguese people. That will be very important for Lisbon.”
The Mayor while presenting the keys of the City of Lisbon to President Buhari, emphasized the cultural, historical, political and diplomatic ties between Lisbon and Abuja, describing the keys as “a token of respect and appreciation.”