President Muhammadu Buhari
By Ismaila Chafe
President Muhammadu Buhari departed Madrid on a return journey to Abuja on Friday at the end of a three-day state visit.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the president’s aircraft took off from the Torrejon Airbase, Madrid, at about 8.20 a.m. local time for Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
He is expected to be at the weekly Friday Juma’at prayer at the Aso Villa in the afternoon.
Buhari met with President Pedro Sanchez as well as the Spanish monarch, His Majesty King Felipe VI, on Wednesday.
At the meeting with President Sanchez, Nigeria and Spain signed nine Agreements and Memoranda of Understanding covering a Treaty on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters and the transfer of sentenced persons and extradition.
Others were on economic and commercial cooperation, tourism, sports, health, the fight against COVID-19 and science and innovation.
On Thursday, President Buhari attended a Political and Business Leaders Forum, jointly organised by the Spanish Chamber of Commerce, the Ministry of Trade, and the Confederation of Employers.
At the meeting, the Nigerian leader alerted European countries to look toward Africa for solution to the resources supply challenges currently facing the global economy.
He also challenged Spanish investors to take advantage of Nigeria’s tax-free environment and limitless expatriate quota at the nation’s Free Trade Zones to boost Nigerian-Spanish trade and economic opportunities.
According to him, for quite a number of decades, Spain has been one of Nigeria’s most important trade partners.
He said Spain had been a major importer of Nigeria’s crude oil, noting that Nigeria’s exports to Spain stood at 4.8 billion dollars in 2020 whilst Spain’s exports to Nigeria increased from 97.2 million dollars in 1995 to 517 million dollars in 2020.
Also on Thursday, President Buhari hosted representatives of the Nigerian community in Spain, including professional footballers and some Spanish investors with interests in Nigeria.
He Nigerians pursuing legitimate businesses abroad to always invest wisely back home as part of their contributions towards transforming the nation’s economy.
The Diaspora team, which met with the president, included John Bosco, President of the Association of Nigerians in Spain and his deputy, Richard Omoregbe.
Others were: Kenneth Omeruo Super Eagles international who plies his trade with Leganes FC, Madrid and Obinna Okafor, a football agent.
Some more others were: Mohammed Bashir, a student of Aviation, Segun Adedoyin, studying Global Affairs and Bright Omorodion, a businessman.
Buhari told the compatriots, whom he described as ambassadors of Nigeria in Spain that he was informed about how law-abiding they had been in the European country.
“I wish to encourage you to continue to be role models for our youths back home as well as sustain the image of being excellent ambassadors of Nigeria in Spain and live peacefully in the various communities in which you reside here,’’ he said.
The president was accompanied to Spain by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo.
Also on the entourage were the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola and the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare.
The National Security Adviser, retired Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno, the Director-General, National Intelligence Agency, Amb. Ahmed Rufa’i and Chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa were also in the president’s team. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Alli Hakeem