BY OUR CORRESPONDENT
The Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives, Wednesday,played host to a delegation of the Cuban diplomatic community in Nigeria led by the country’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Her Excellency, Mrs Clara M. Pulido-Escandell.
According to a release signed by Nkem Anyata-Lafia, Special Adviser to Rep.Yusuf Buba, Chairman of the Committee, which was made available to newsmen in Abuja on Thursday,the two countries agreed to work together through closer relationship by their both parliaments.
During the visit, the lawmakers and the visiting diplomats had very open and useful discussions on how to deepen the already existing cordial relations between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Republic of Cuba.
They pointed out the need to enhance these relations in the nearest possible time ,especially by using the parliaments of both countries. While agreeing on the necessity of closer cooperation in areas such as Medicine,ICT, Health and Environmental Tourism and Scholarship,they noted that these would open up more opportunities for people- to-people and business-to-business relations between the both countries.
While thanking the diplomats for the visit, Chairman, Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives,Rt. Hon.Yusuf Buba Yakub,said Nigeria maintains very cordial relations with Cuba, including being joint members of various international and multinational Organisations like the United Nations,the G77 Non- aligned Countries and many others.
The lawmaker said:
” From available records,our country’s relationship with Cuba dates back to the early days of our Indepedence. But since 1974,when we officially came together to make good our diplomatic relationship,Nigeria and Cuba have continued to be good friends and have pursued the development of our both countries in all areas we have comparative advantage.
” This visit,which we do not take for granted,is, therefore,an opportunity to open better doors for further development of our both countries and peoples. We have noted the giant strides Cuba has made in the areas of Medicine and Health Tourism and appreciate your goal to partner our country to in order to improve our health sector, as you had expressed during your visit to our Minister of Health sometime in October last year. We thank you for all that you continue to do in our nation to develop this sector and will truly wish to enhance everything through our unfolding Parliamentary cooperation”
Earlier in her brief remarks, Ambassador Pulido-Escandell had noted that Nigeria remains Cuba’ s best friend in Africa and that the both countries owe themselves a duty to strengthen that relationship. She said it was because of the place of pride that Nigeria holds in the hearts of many Cubans that the Cuban Parliament had since established a Friendship Group for Nigeria. She called on the lawmakers to consummate that gesture by ensuring that such a Group is , equally, established in the National Assembly. While assuring that she would be glad to facilitate closer co-operation and visits between the Parliaments of the two countries,the diplomat said her people would be glad to learn new things from Nigeria’s National Assembly.
The Cuban Ambassador,who also used the opportunity of the visit to inform of the many opportunities that exist in thier country for better relationship with Nigeria and Nigerians,told the legislators that Cuban medical institutions had,at the last count,graduated over two hundred Nigerian Medical Doctors and were at the moment training another group of six medical students from Kaduna State in a scholarship cooperation scheme with that State.
While appreciating the visit by the Cuban diplomats,a member of the Committee,Hon. Kayode Moshood Akiolu,Member representing Lagos Island Federal Constituency 1, noted that Nigeria and Cuba have always been the best of friends. He pointed out that the Cuban Community in Lagos was one that everyone cherished to be in and observed the strong historical ties between the Yoruba of Lagos State and what he termed their families from Cuba.
Among those present at the visit were Hon. James Adisa Owolabi,Member representing Lagos 2 Federal Constituency and and the Cuban Deputy Ambassador to Nigeria.
To drum home the entire requests of the Cuban delegation, especially,in the area of creating a Friendship Group in the House of Representatives for Cuba,Rt. Hon. Buba promised to speedily forward the noble request to House Speaker,Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamala.