Dr. Branco made the appeal during a courtesy call to the Vice President Goodluck Jonathan in the Presidential Villa Abuja. He lamented that his country is experiencing a depressed economy due to dwindling revenues from cocoa and coffee which are the mainstay of their national income.
He recalled that Nigeria has always been on the side of Sao Tome and Principe, noting that there are opportunities both countries can derive from the relationship. He said the Joint Development Commission of Nigeria and Sao Tome is the centre point of the relationship between the two countries.
The Prime Minister, who commended an initiative for Nigeria and Sao Tome to establish a Bilateral Military Commission, believed such a body would be effective in protecting the rich natural resources that exist in their Joint Development Zone (JDZ).
Responsing on behalf of Preseident Umaru Musa YarÁdua who was undergoing medical treatment in Saudi Arabia, Vice President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan said the recent security developments in the Gulf of Guinea especially on the illegal trafficking of arms and ammunition, child trafficking and piracy have become serious concerns for members of the Gulf of Guinea Commission and this has made it imperative for the immediate inauguration of the Bilateral Military Commission as provided in the Joint Development Zone Treaty.
He noted that “if the situation is allowed to deteriorate without instituting a mechanism to check the atrocities, it could threaten our national security and impede our economic development.”
While assuring the Government and people of Sao Tome and Principe of the Federal Government’ support and commitment to execute the 2001 Joint Development Zone Treaty, Dr. Jonathan urged the development partners in the petroleum sector to be committed to the activities in the Joint Treaty so as to fast track the benefits of immense resources nature has deposited in the two countries.
He also opined that the strategic partnership between the two countries should be holistic, embracing security, social, economic, political and cultural affairs, reassuring that the government would support Nigerian investors, especially in the oil, tourism, agriculture, shipping, aviation insurance and fishery sectors to fully explore these potentials.”
At the meeting the Foreign Ministers of both countries signed a communique which include among others, the review of bilateral relations between both countries and also took note of developments in the Sub-region, particularly in the Gulf of Guinea.
In order to enhance security in the area, both countries stressed the importance of establishing a bilateral security mechanism and in this context expressed the importance of the Bilateral Military Commission (BMC). They underscored the need for more high-level official visits, facilitation of trade missions and exhibitions as well as exchange of information as part of confidence building measures.