Nigerian president wants economic, cultural co-operation with Jamaica

NIGERIAN President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday promised increased
economic and cultural cooperation with Jamaica in an address to a joint
sitting of the bicameral parliament celebrating the country’s 50th
anniversary of independence.
The Nigerian leader committed to increased discussions on bilateral
trade and investments, starting with the exploration of technical
cooperation on cultural matters with Prime Minister Portia Simpson
Miller during talks which will commence at Jamaica House this morning.
Jonathan said that his first objective was a technical cooperation
agreement on Jamaican/Nigerian collaboration with the Centre for Black
and African Civilisation in Nigeria, which is an offshoot of FESTAC
1977, and similar structures in Jamaica. The centre was created to
consolidate the achievements of FESTAC ’77, a month-long African
festival of arts attended by thousands of Africans and African-Americans
in Lagos in 1977.
“Jamaica and Nigeria must work together to make a difference and improve the fortunes of our people,” Jonathan told the sitting.
The Nigerian president arrived in Jamaica yesterday with a delegation of
some 70 persons, including his wife Dame Patience Jonathan. They
travelled from Trinidad and Tobago, where they shared in that country’s
emancipation anniversary celebrations.
One of the highlights of their visit to Port-of-Spain was his
announcement of the possibility of an air services agreement with
Trinidad to facilitate direct flights between both countries.
They were met at the Norman Manley Airport by Simpson Miller and other
dignitaries, before travelling to Gordon House for the historic meeting
of Parliament which forms part of the Jamaica 50 celebrations.
Dressed in his usual black Nigerian formal shirt, gold chain and black
felt hat, the Nigerian leader sat beside Jamaica’s Governor General Sir
Patrick Allen for more than an hour — unsmiling and focused on his
clasped hands in his lap, listening to speeches from the governor
general, Simpson Miller, Opposition Leader Andrew Holness, President of
the Senate Stanley Redwood, and Speaker of the House Michael Peart.
Meanwhile, the prime minister stressed the need for the current
generation of Jamaican politicians to remain focused on the mission of
economic independence, based on the charge given by the late national
hero, Norman Manley.
She said that Jamaica’s links with Nigeria were very deep and argued
that ” while we may be separate by distance and water, we are united by
blood”.
Holness said that the truth about Jamaica was that ” during the past 50
years we have achieved much, but during the past 50 years we could have
achieved more”.
He said that the mission for the next 50 years, is not so much about
political power, but about using political power to gain economic
independence and removing poverty from our midst. He also paid tribute
to Jamaican women and mothers for the contribution they have made to the
society over the past 50 years.
After the speeches, Simpson Miller and Holness jointly unveiled a plaque recognising the 50-year history of Gordon House.
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