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Nigeria, Germany Agree to Deepen Bilateral Ties as Germany Returns 22 Benin Bronzes

Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama and his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock revealed this on Tuesday.

Nigeria and Germany have both agreed to deepen their bilateral ties, meet the energy transition target, tackle climate crises and strengthen collaborations across all sectors.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama and his German counterpart, Annalena Baerbock revealed this on Tuesday moments after some 22 historic bronze sculptures were returned by the European country to Nigeria.

Onyeama, speaking during a bilateral meeting in Abuja, said that strengthening bilateral ties, people-to people relations, strengthening partnership in the energy, economic sectors, tackling climate change, insecurity, strengthen collaborations across all sectors were the focus of the bilateral meeting.

He said that the meeting is also coming on the heels of the reparation of 22 pieces of artifacts from Germany to Nigeria which are beyond aesthetics to but a symbol of the culture and spirituality to the Nigerian people.

He said: “Regarding Energy transmission, it is something that we want to see as the transition to Fossil Fuel by 2060.

“Hydrogen of course is one of the options and strategies are still in place. And we are very opened to engaging with our partners such as Germany to further develop this.

“We have fully committed into Climate Action and it is a whole of government approach. You are coming in the context of the return of various artefacts that have been residing in Germany for a number of decades.

“We wish first of all to extend on behalf of the government of Nigeria and the people of Nigeria our deep gratitude to your government for this gesture of return of these artifacts.

“That are not just of aesthetic value to us but deep cultural and spiritual importance to the people of Nigeria.

“We have strong economic cooperation between our two countries and as a country that is an oil and gas producing country, we have tried as a government to diversify our economy.”

He stated that Nigeria would be interested in Germany and other global powers to  invest in the country, for everything that would create a good investment atmosphere have been put in place.

Baerbock said that there are so many ways in which Nigeria and Germany, the European Union and African Union need to strengthen collaborations for economic and mutual benefits.

She commended Nigeria for how well the country was able to fight and resist terrorism and rebuild areas previously captured by Boko Haram.

She said: “There are so many areas between Germany and Nigeria, The European Union and the African Union which we can intensify our cooperation.

“We are really appreciative on how your government have supported us, we went to Borno State to see first-hand what part of your society have been through within the last year.

“But also how you resisted terrorism and now rebuilt the areas which have been taken by Boko Haram and others.

“So we really applaud your engagement for the security of the people.”

 Baerbock said that Germany and the European Union is however seeking the support of Nigeria and other African countries as the European Union Peace Order is currently under check following the Russian Ukraine war.

The German Foreign Minister said that the EU and Germany remains committed to standing by Ukraine which have been invaded by Russia which is a clear breach of the UN Charter.

She said: “We as European Union have asked you as Nigeria, African countries to stand at our side when our peace order is under check and this is why we also engage with you.

“When you have asked us to support you while your stability has been threatened to stand at your side.

“And for us, this is what I would like to underline with this visit and also a follow up from my Deputy Minister that we really would like to invest in our cooperation and friendship because partners are only true partners if they stand with you in difficult times.”

Baerbock added that only through solid collaboration will it be possible to address the global challenge of Climate change crises and other challenges as peculiar to respective regions and countries.

“You are facing different challenges with regards to terrorism, but also with regards to climate crises effects, the horrible numbers we had in end of October with the flooding people being displaced, and also the millions who have been displaced.

“This is a big challenge, but it also shows that we can face these challenges only together if we cooperate.

“We will like to develop our strategic partnership deeper, which your government, with your country. We would like to increase our engagements in the stabilization subject.”

She added that: “Nigeria, you have rich value over fossil resources an these are some of the things we would like to discuss so that you can get it right and not make the mistakes we made,” Baerbock said.

Baerbock also pledged Germany’s support and neutrality to a free a fair General Elections in Nigeria in 2023, noting “in these times the value of democracy is one of the good moment in this very difficult year”.

One of the highlights of the German’s Minister visit was the return of over 20 historic bronze sculptures to Nigeria as part of efforts to address what its foreign minister called its “dark colonial past.”

The Minister said: “It was wrong to steal these bronzes. It was wrong to keep these bronzes and it is long overdue to return these bronzes to their home.”

Cast in brass and bronze with ancient designs, the sculptures were used in rituals to honor the Benin people’s ancestors and rulers.
More than 5,000 ancient artifacts are estimated to have been stolen from Nigeria by England, when it was the country’s colonizer, said Nigerian authorities.

Michael Olugbode in Abuja

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