Jamaica will be Nigeria’s hub for economic flight – Says Nigeria Foreign Minister as they strengthen bilateral relations

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By Joy Odor

The Nigeria Minister of Foreign Affairs (MFA), Mr Geoffrey Onyema has affirmed that Jamaica may be Nigeria’s hub for economic flight and the Caribbean as Nigeria policy towards Jamaica and other countries of the Caribbean is founded on basis of kinship.

The Minister made the disclosure at the Fourth Session of the Nigeria-Jamaica Joint Commission in Abuja on Wednesday that expected to present practical approaches to cementing already existing bilateral agreements between the two countries and forging new ones.

Mr Onyema opined that Nigeria is determined to ensure that the Joint Commission would not be just an annual or biannual ritual but to put in place mechanisms of monitoring, to ensure that real and practical effects are achieved from what the two countries sign up and agree to.

According to him issues bordering on education, cultural cooperation, economic and trade matters, technical cooperation, energy cooperation, migration and others would be discussed.

Minister Onyeama said there is a lot that binds Nigeria and Jamaica together  as sovereign countries and as such, still have to put in place mechanisms to strengthen the relationships.

“We will also need to look at the cultural level where we can drink more Jamaican rum here and export palm wine to them and we export afrobeat and they will give us reggae and calypso, as well as show us how to organize carnivals through technology transfer to have better carnivals. There is so much we can be doing as a people to cement this relationship.

“It has been far too long for a very important part of the globe for us—the Caribbean—that we’ve gone too far apart. So, we really want to bring a big push to all the various levels—technical and people-to-people is very important.

“We are both from the same source and so we are essentially the same people. We are brothers and sisters and we do not see them as just another country with whom we trade and develop relations. For us, they are kith and kin and that’s how our policy towards Jamaica and other countries of the Caribbean is founded on that basis of kinship.

“The Minister of Foreign Affairs and the High Commissioner of Jamaica in Nigeria decided that there should be direct people-to-people connectivity and so a couple of years ago, we pushed very much for a first direct flight between Nigeria and Jamaica so that Nigerians can go to Jamaica and Jamaicans can come to Nigeria without having to go through Europe or the united States.

“Although it is one short flight, the impact will really be a giant leap for the relations between Nigeria and Jamaica as well as the rest of the Caribbean. We are actually hoping that Jamaica will be the possible hub for Nigerian flights Furthermore, he said there is a lot that binds Nigeria and Jamaica together, adding that they are all sovereign countries and as such, still have to put in place mechanisms to strengthen their relationships” he said.

Responding, the Jamaica Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Kamina Johnson Smith noted that the flight to Jamaica from Nigeria in December 2020 is a small step in the right direction.

She maintained that Jamaica look forward to exploring prospects in oil and gas, mining, trading in agriculture and non-agricultural products and wider investment opportunities as such, welcomes the opportunity to explore the potentials to strengthen and deepen the bilateral relations of the two countries in these areas.

Ms Kamina Johnson Smith said as they are looking forward to identifying new areas for cooperation, her country is committed to engagements that would upscale historical and long standing relations with the view to revitalising and expanding them.

“We are pleased to have hosted previous sessions of the joint commission in 1999, 2002 and 2014 and we welcome the fact that we are able to meet here in your wonderful country during my first official visit to Nigeria.

“I and my team are committed to ensuring that the mechanisms we put in place will allow for continuous follow-up and implementation to ensure that there are deeds to match the words which will be exchanged during the course of today”, she said.

“This occasion of course marks the very first time that the meeting of this joint commission is taking place on the continent in Nigeria. Since its establishment over 30 years ago, this joint commission has been a viable and important medium for us to exchange views on issues of mutual interest” she noted.

According to her, they hoped to explore potentials to strengthen and deepen bilateral relations in areas such as oil and gas, mining, trade in agricultural and non agricultural products as well as investment opportunities in Nigeria.

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