The Nigeria and Italy governments are to ensure that some 25,000 Nigerians living illegally in Italy are returned home. This was part of the agenda of the closed door meeting between the Nigerian Foreign minister, Chief Ojo Maduekwe and his Italian counterpart, Dr. Franco Frattini, in Abuja.
[africanews.com] Briefing the media after the meeting, Chief Ojo Maduekwe said the Nigerian government will do everything necessary to have the illegal aliens return home even as he told his guest to always accord the concerned Nigerians their human rights.
"As part of the Citizen Diplomacy of this government, we still want our people to be respected wherever they may be even as we do not encourage any Nigerian to travel to any country illegally, but in the case of Italy, we are also proud to reveal that more than 40,000 Nigerians are living there legitimately", Chief Maduekwe said.
The meeting which was a follow up to an earlier one by Chief Maduekwe and a delegation from Italy in New York at the 63rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly in 2008 also looked into economic and trade relations between the two countries.
The Italian envoy said that his country is ready to maintain the trade relationship with Nigeria especially in the areas of leather and leather works, timber, rubber and cocoa.
"I'm optimistic that Nigeria will continue to patronize us in the purchase of motor vehicles, agricultural equipment, electrical parts, aircraft spare parts, telecommunication equipments as well as chemical and pharmaceutical products", Dr. Frattini said.
Nigeria is Italy's second largest trade partner in Africa, in 2003, the volume of trade between the two countries was put at about 1.115 billion Euros. In 2004, Italy exported goods worth 486.3 million Euros to Nigeria while she imported goods worth 337.8million Euros from Nigeria.
Other areas of discussion included the Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (IPPA) which is designed to encourage and attract Italian foreign investors to Nigeria; the Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) and the Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement.
Finally, the two diplomats deliberated on the 2004 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed to combat the illicit act of women trafficking and they both admitted that a major improvement has been recorded as they keep their pledged to maintain the tempo until the act was abandoned by the perpetrators.
Kinsley Kobo, AfricaNews reporter in Abidjan, Ivory Coast