Nigeria and India has agreed to boost their bilateral ties, especially in the defence sector which both noted has not improved much since they signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
The Acting Minister of Defence, Mrs. Olusola Obada, stated this in Abuja on Monday when the participants of the National Defence University (NDU), India, led by the Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ambassador Mahesh Sachdev visited her office.
Obada stressed that historically, Nigeria and India have had excellent bilateral relationships and should therefore work together to strengthen ties in the defence sector.
She reminded them that the military’s association with India started in 1962 when the Indian Army came to set up the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), and this had gone down in history as India being the country that set up the academy.
The minister said that both countries have similar experiences in the past and that the synergy that has been there for a very long time should be continued.
She said: "The bilateral relation that we have with India is doing quite well and there is need for both countries to move the relationship forward as stipulated in our MoU.
"This has not been vibrant as one would have hoped as this need to be move forward.
"I am also happy to hear that India is Nigeria’s second host important trading partner, as you also said, you don’t want to remain as the second - you want to be number one. So this current synergy should continue to expand and we are also keen to have this in the defence sector as well.”
Obada noted that President Goodluck Jonathan had recently made changes in the Armed Forces including the appointment of new Service Chiefs. She, however, commended the participants’ forthrightness in visiting the country to acquaint themselves “with the new thinking and new strategies that would evolve”.
According to her: “It is hoped that this new strategies would provide the necessary impetus in reformulating the countries very important ties.”
The minister disclosed that some Nigerian officers were undergoing training at the moment in India, adding that the Nigerian armed forces' modernisation should also form basis of their continued relationship.
“We need to expand that synergy to move the MoU forward, and there are so many things that are similar to both countries like the recent security challenges that we face in Nigeria, and, like you said, that it is India’s interest to have a very stable armed prosperous Nigeria," she added.
On his part, Sachdev the visit will also provide the opportunity for the participants to learn the new strategy thinking of the service, acquaint themselves with it and re-formulate their cooperation and collaboration.
"We will work with our Nigerian friends so that the bi-lateral ties are not only sustained but expanded further," he said.
"We believe that our two destinies are intertwined through common history, through our own various apparent specifics, such as large multi-ethnic democratic and tolerant societies, and facing various defence challenges. So it was only natural for the two countries to collaborate in the defence sector," he noted.