03 August 2016, Sweetcrude, Abuja – Visiting presidents of Republic of Benin and Togo have lamented the hardship brought upon their peoples as an aftershock of the ongoing energy crises and economic recession in Nigeria.
President of the Republic of Benin, Mr. Patrice Talon said in Abuja during a visit with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, on Tuesday, that the economic downturn in Nigeria is affecting his country and by extension the West African sub-region.
This is even as President Muhammadu sought to reassure the West African neighbours of the resolve of his administration to achieve stable power supply in view of Nigeria’s commitment towards the West- African sub-region.
“As Nigeria is not using all its potentials, it is making other African countries suffer. The crisis hitting Nigeria is what is also hitting us. This is an opportunity for us to go back to develop other sectors” Talon said at a joint press conference at Nigeria’s State House.
Talon solicited for Nigeria’s assistance in the development of his country’s power sector acknowledging that Nigeria was also had challenges in the area of power.
Describing Nigeria as the “Engine room of West Africa,” Talon challenged the country to begin to explore its non-oil potentials to boost the country’s revenue profile and remain standing as a Big Brother in Africa.
Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy, is currently facing recession amidst dwindling oil prices and a poor economy, pushing it from its position as the largest African economy.
Receiving the Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe at the State House on Tuesday, hours after Talon departed, President Buhari stressed that improved power supply would increase Nigeria’s competitive advantage.
Buhari said Nigeria is making efforts to ensure that the West African Gas Pipeline project becomes more efficient to stabilise energy sectors as well as enhance electricity across the West African sub-region.
“We have a power problem and Benin has power problem because they depend on us and we are working very hard to stabilise the situation. The resources are available; the technology is available we are trying to stabilise the situation.
“If we improve power which means our productivity can be competitive and God willing we are going to achieve our objectives,” Buhari said.
He added that “The economy part of (our discussion) it, is mainly energy, making sure that the West African Gas pipeline is made much more efficient. This government is making all the efforts it can to stabilise the situation because the resources are there.
“The world knows that Nigeria has plenty of gas, what we need to do is to stabilise the environment so that this gas can be regularly pumped to the sub-region through the infrastructure already in place.
“Also the Nigerian energy mixed is not doing too badly as gas can now be converted into liquid form, the technology is now available, transfers to Benin Republic to power their power stations.”
According to Buhari, “The sad and long-standing problem is the question of using Benin as a transit camp to bring a lot of goods into Nigeria. Under ECOWAS agreement, all we have to do is to remind ourselves about our respective national commitments that other than really ECOWAS originated commodities we should not allow it. If we get strict on that, I think Nigerian industries would benefit from ECOWAS agreements,” he said.
Gnassingbe, who was in Nigeria to visit the Dangote refinery in Lagos state, said he was impressed by what he saw.
“I am impressed by the investment of Dangote because we have been talking of socio-economic integration and promoting trade among African countries. If you want to promote trade you have investors that are very competitive and will contribute to reducing import from non-African countries.
“I was told the gas pipeline that will be built will be buried under the sea to make it. It means if you want to promote blue economy, our ocean needs to be very safe. We need security. I invited him to attend the maritime summit on 15th October that will be held in Togo” he said.
Buhari also lauded Dangote’s efforts stating that Nigeria was also building pipelines though not as “formidable as what Dangote is doing, we are improving on it. We also have the LNG that is helping is to liquefy the gas and then turn it into a liquid with modern technology and modern technology is making it flexible.”