Abhay Thakur, Indian high commissioner to Nigeria, says “50,000 Indians” comprising professionals, investors, technically skilled, medical doctors and educationists are involved in various businesses in Nigeria.
Thakur spoke at a NAN forum in Abuja, on Tuesday.
He said India was Nigeria’s largest trading partner globally, with bilateral trade between both countries “at nearly $12 billion and Indian companies investing in projects worth $10 billion”.
The envoy said the political developments happening in India and Nigeria would not slow down the pace of bilateral cooperation between both countries.
“India has contributed meaningfully to Nigeria’s economy and growth wherever it can,” Thakur said.
“India is the largest functioning democracy in the world at 1.3 billion people with an electorate of 900 million and Nigeria is the largest democracy of Africa. This is something that really brings us together.”
Narendra Modi, Indian Prime Minister, also sent a congratulatory letter to President Muhammadu Buhari on his re-election.
The letter which was delivered by Thakur, congratulated Nigeria on the successful completion of her general elections
“Allow me to compliment the government and people of Nigeria on very successful round of elections both presidential and gubernatorial,” Thakur said.
“Our Prime Minister has sent his congratulations, his heartiest greetings to the re-elected President Muhammadu Buhari and even as these political developments in India and Nigeria are happening.
“India is going into elections next month and we would probably be completing and actually having our new respective governments in place, both countries together, in the last week of May.”
According to NAN, the 2019 general election in India is scheduled to hold in seven phases from April 11 to May 19 with the counting of votes and declaration of results to be done on May 23.
Meanwhile, Okechukwu Enelamah, minister of industry, trade and investment, has also lauded the relationship between Nigeria and India but said it has become necessary to expand it beyond trade for increased investment.
Bisi Daniels, strategy and communication adviser to Enemelah, quoted the minister as saying Nigeria is restructuring her economy and her bilateral relationships should reflect same.
The minister welcomed the envoy’s interest in Project Mine, a new initiative by Nigeria to develop world-class special economic zones to position the country as the pre-eminent manufacturing hub in sub-Saharan Africa, and a major exporter of made in Nigeria goods and services regionally and globally.
In February, the federal government signed investment agreements with three development finance institutions; Afreximbank, Bank of Industry and the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) for the project.
Thakur, who expressed interest in the project, requested a formal briefing to enable him sell the opportunities to Indian investors.
He noted that Nigeria and India are important trade partners and expressed the need to grow the partnership.
He said India was looking forward to the Joint Trade Committee meeting holding in India in April.
Responding, Enelamah assured the envoy that he would enjoy his stay in Nigeria and the country’s attendance at the meeting.
“We are glad to have you in Nigeria. We are very hospitable people and we believe you will enjoy your stay,” Enelamah said.