FG yet to decide on closure of mission in Ukraine- official

Geofrey Onyeama, Foreign Affairs Minister

Amb. Olukunle Bamgbose, the Permanent Secretary, C of Foreign Affairs, on Thursday said Nigeria was yet to make final conclusion on the closure of its mission in Ukraine.

Bamgbose said this in Abuja when Ukrainian investors led by Natalia Mykolska, Ukraine Deputy Minister for Economic Development and Trade, visited him in Abuja.

President Mohammadu Buhari had in 2015 directed the Foreign Affairs Ministry to review downward the number of the nation’s foreign missions for economic reason.

Bamgbose described Ukraine as one of the Nigeria’s strategic partners who had been of help to the country in terms of the need to fight terrorism.

”Apart from the fact that Ukraine is the second largest country hosting Nigerian students abroad, the country has proven itself to be a friend in times of need.

“By and large, I think we are good friends, the diplomatic relations between the two countries can only grow stronger and stronger and the government has not made final pronouncement on the closure of our mission there.

“We are still engaging, we are still waiting for final decision to be made. But, I think beside that, Ukraine was being consider as a friend in need and a friend in deed at that critical moment in our history.

”And, it is something that government will take into consideration in the final decision on whether we are retaining our mission there or not,” he said.

Bamgbose said when Nigeria needed military hardware to deal with insurgency, it was Ukraine which came to the rescue of the country then and the nation did not take the gesture for granted.

“At that critical moment, Nigeria found a true friend in Ukraine and that has really helped in combating the surge of insurgency in the northeast and now they have been terribly decimated.

“Those who left their cities are now returning,  the infrastructure destroyed is now being rebuilt and to a large extent this is due to the military hardware procured from Ukraine,” he said.

The Permanent Secretary also called for the establishment of a joint commission between the two countries, which according to him would serve as a platform to further deepen relations.

”We consider Ukraine as a strategic partner a friend indeed and of course a friend in terms of need and we will do everything in our power to deepen the relations between the two countries.

”I understand that there are some outstanding agreements that are to be signed by the two countries.

”We will make sure that these agreements are looked into by the relevancy government agencies and of course prepare for signing,” he said.

On her part, Mykolska said the major aim of the visit was to create a platform for the two countries to deepen economic relations.

” Ukraine sees Nigeria as a strategic partner in terms of economic relations, Nigeria is a destination market for Ukraine export in export strategic to Ukraine,” she said.

She said there were lots of opportunities for both countries  businesses and called for deepening of relations between them.

”We believe trade is not a one way street, we need to think of import, export and joint cooperation,” she said.

The envoy said Nigeria was a long standing friend of Ukraine, noting that Nigerian students in Ukraine were the best ambassadors for both countries. (NAN)

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