By Ismaila Chafe
President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday met with Fernando Medina, Mayor of Lisbon and City Council Members, expressing gratitude and appreciation to them for accommodating Nigerians and those fleeing the war in Ukraine.
Buhari also used the occasion to congratulate him and his party on their electoral victory and his emergence as the Mayor of Lisbon.
The President’s media aide, Malam Garba Shehu, in a statement, said the Nigerian leader thanked Fernando Medina for graciously receiving the Nigerian delegation in the ‘beautiful and historic coastal city of Lisbon’.
He equally commended the excellent manner the city was 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.
According to the president, Nigeria has made great strides in diversifying its economy beyond oil and gas, recording successes in agriculture, manufacturing, infrastructure 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 the Nigerian leader 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.”
While presenting the keys of the City of Lisbon to President Buhari, the Mayor emphasised the cultural, historical, political and diplomatic ties between Lisbon and Abuja, describing the keys as “a token of respect and appreciation.”