|Horses for courses: A group of Nigerian men in traditional costumes ride horses during a parade at the Abuja National Carnival in the capital of Nigeria. The annual festival features road shows, music, traditional dances, and masquerades with participants from all the states of Nigeria. — File Photo
(VNS) Nigeria is a Federal Repub-lic comprising 36 states and one Federal Capital Territory. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republics of Benin to the West, Chad and Cameroon to the East, plus Niger to the North. The Federal capital city is Abuja, while Lagos remains the commercial capital. It has a population of more than 160 million.
Modern Nigeria dates back to 1914, when the Protectorates of Northern and Southern Nigeria were amalgamated. The country became independent on October 1, 1960 and in 1963 adopted a Republican Constitution while electing to remain a member of the Commonwealth.
Nigeria was a founding member of the sub-regional organ-isation, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in 1975. Since then, it has played a leading role among the 15-member states within the West-African sub-region by maintaining peace, security, stability and restoring democratic governance in the region. Nigeria is a member of the AU, UN, Commonwealth and several other international organ-isations.
Nigeria has a rich cultural heritage dating back more than two thousand years. Archaeological discoveries such as the Nok Terra cotta and the Igbo Ukwu excavations give clear indications of a highly developed artistic and skilled civilisation. The diversity of Nigerian art and culture is displayed across National museums in Lagos, Jos, Benin, Kaduna, Kano, Owo Umuahia and Calabar. Nigeria has also produced world renowned writers and literary giants such as Chinua Achebe, Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka and playwright JP Clark.
Nigeria and Viet Nam established relations in 1976 but they were only formalised in 2007 after the opening of diplomatic missions in both countries, as well as the appointment of Principal envoys. Since then, relations have gone from strength to strength, aided by the growing number of transactions between businesses, although trade volume remains abysmally low. It is remarkable to think that in the space of two years, the number of Nigerians living in Viet Nam has spiked from around 300 to almost 1,000, with the majority based in HCM City where they are engaged in exciting ventures with their Vietnamese counterparts. As of today, Nigeria boasts more than 200 students pursuing degrees in tertiary institutions across Viet Nam.
Nigeria – Viet Nam relations have been boosted by numerous exchange visits among key government functionaries and entrepreneurs, especially through participation in International Trade Fairs. In particular, the Business Seminars held in November 2011 and April 2013 in Ha Noi and Thai Binh respectively – with collaboration from the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade and Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) – were remarkably successful, attracting huge participation from both sides.
But now, efforts are geared towards concluding two important Agreements between Nigeria and Viet Nam, namely the Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (IPPA) and the Agreement on Waiver of Visas for Holders of Diplomatic and Official Passports. The three major Outstanding Agreements/ MoUs are as follows:
* The draft Memorandum of Understanding submitted to the Ministry of Defence of Nigeria in November 2011 for consideration;
* Agreement on Deployment of Technical Aid Corps (TAC) Volunteers to Viet Nam to teach English Language in Vietnamese Universities;
* The Draft Bilateral Agreement on Maritime Transport between Nigeria and Viet Nam, initiated by the latter in August 2013.
Finally, since my assumption of office, my focus has been to attract Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) to Nigeria, as well as ensuring conclusion of the aforementioned Agreements between our two countries. — VNS