Ambassador tells why France can't ignore Nigeria

Ambassador tells why France can't ignore Nigeria

Sunday, March 1, 2015 8:36 pm

•President Goodluck Jonathan

•President Goodluck Jonathan

The outgoing French Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Jacques de Labriolle, said on Sunday that Nigeria remained too strategic to be ignored by any country.

Labriolle, who made the remark in an interview with NAN in Abuja, said that Nigeria was a very important country to France.

According to him, Nigeria is very strategic politically, diplomatically and economically. “I think that you cannot ignore Nigeria.

“The Nigeria’s Coordinating Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala always says if you are not in Nigeria, you are not in Africa,” said the envoy.

He, however, said that France had for a long time talked about Africa without including Nigeria but that it would try to correct and change the trend.

The envoy said that France did not need a relationship that was limited to what its relations used to be with Africa in the previous centuries.

Labriolle said the French President, Francois Hollande, had during his visit to Nigeria during the Centenary ceremony restated the strategic importance of Nigeria and Africa.

He quoted Hollande as saying that “we want to discuss with Africa as it is now, and as it will be later, and not interested in being prisoner of the past”.

“So in short, Nigeria is very strategic to France both on the political and the diplomatic side as well as the economic side.

“The size of the country is such that it is a development basin in the making and of course, we want to be part of it.

“So for us, Nigeria is an important economic and diplomatic interlocutor,” he said.

Meanwhile, Labriolle has said that the Peugeot Automobile plant in Kaduna was being transformed to be the biggest vehicle assembling plant in Africa. “The assembling plant in Kaduna was rather active in the 1980s and 1990s. Then, it was stopped because of political problems.

“And now, it is starting again in a small scale but very symbolic one that since 2014, a few hundreds of Peugeot 301 have been assembled in Kaduna again.

“It used to be the biggest automobile assembly plant in Africa and it can still be in the future, if all the other problems are taken care of,” he said.

He said currently, most of the vehicle parts came from abroad, particularly China, France and Spain but that the potential of the Nigerian market was huge.

According to him, Peugeot is now working at fabricating some parts in Nigeria, so as to reduce the cost in the future and develop the industrial capacity.
“The basic economic life has started again, which we hope will bring good results because the fundamentals are good. The market in Nigeria is huge and the workforce potential is tremendous, I must say, very impressive.

“Probably, some plastic parts can be done here already; it is just a matter of having the industrial quality record that is needed.

“This is because, a car has to go through quality controls that are very strict and if you fail only one, you cannot sell the car.

“So it requires a kind of rigour and excellence, already existing in some Nigerian companies.

“Now, the problem is to develop this but it takes time to find banks to finance it,” he said.

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