Célébration de la Fête nationale (14 juillet 2015)
National Day Address
By French Ambassador to Nigeria
Abuja, July 14th, 2015
Excellencies, Ministers, Governors, Parliamentarians,
Dear guests and friends,
It is my great pleasure to welcome you all, tonight, at this celebration of the French National Day.
Let me first thank this very talented Nigerian choir, AMEMUSO Choir, which performed the two national anthems. They deserve your applause.
I thank also the team of the Hilton hotel. They were able to provide us with some French dishes and cheeses.
And I thank finally the companies which sponsored this event and made it possible.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The French National Day is also called the “Bastille Day”. It commemorates the destruction by the people of Paris, on the 14th of July 1789, of a fortress which was used as a prison and symbolized the tyranny of the absolute monarchy. That event marked the beginning of the French revolution. We celebrate therefore freedom, democracy, equality of rights for all citizens, rule of law, all the values of the French revolution, which inspired so many other nations and are nowadays shared almost all over the world.
This links us also to Nigeria, which showed its democratic maturity in the recent election, the maturity of its people, of its leaders and the vibrancy of its civil society. This should also allow decisive progress in the overhaul and economic governance of the country. So, after becoming the biggest economy in Africa, Nigeria is now on the way to assume a greater political leadership for the continent.
France is willing to accompany that evolution. Our bilateral relations have densified rapidly in the recent period.
Nigeria is already our first trading partner in Africa. We encourage more French companies to come to Nigeria, to engage in long-term partnerships with the Nigerian private sector. The French Development Agency, AFD, is also here to contribute to the financing of infrastructures and development projects, including in wind and solar energy, or in public transportation, city planning and waste management.
In the field of security, we have been working hand in hand over the last year, since the regional summit organized in Paris in May 2014. France is fighting terrorism everywhere. In Iraq and Syria of course. When terrorists were on the verge of simply taking control over Mali, we intervened to help that country.
Later on, we extended our effort to the whole Sahelian region, and to prevent threats coming for the uncontrolled south of Libya. Against Boko Haram, we provide the Nigerian forces with intelligence and some military cooperation. We also support strongly the neighboring countries and encourage them to closely cooperate with Nigeria. The solution can come only through a common, regional effort in which Nigeria has a central role to play and we highly appreciate the determination expressed by President BUHARI.
We consider that a greater Nigerian leadership will benefit to Western Africa, as well as to the whole continent. It will also give a boost to the regional economic and political integration, through ECOWAS, which is the counterpart of our European Union. And let me add, as France has assumed the difficult task of hosting in December the COP21, that we also count on Nigeria to show leadership and set an example on other global issues like climate change.
I propose that we now raise our glasses to the prosperity of Nigeria, to our bilateral ties and to the success of our collective efforts to eradicate terrorism in the whole region.