Egypt's parliament speaker discusses GERD, anti-terrorism in Abuja meetings with Nigerian leaders

Gamal Essam El-Din , Tuesday 29 Oct 2019

Ali Abdel-Aal met with Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and with Nigeria's Senate President Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan

Egyptian parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Aal (L) meets with Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (R) in Cairo, Egypt, October 29, 2019

An Egyptian parliamentary delegation led by speaker Ali Abdel-Aal held meetings with senior Nigerian officials in Abjua on Monday, discussing topics including the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

Abdel-Aal met with Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and with Nigeria's Senate President Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan.

An Egyptian press release said the speaker discussed a number of important issues with Nigerian officials, primarily the fight against terrorism in the Middle East and Africa's Sahel region and the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam (GERD).

Nigerian newspaper concisenews and Nigerian state television both reported on Monday that Abdel-Aal delivered a personal message from President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo, inviting them to the Africa Investment Forum and the inaugural Forum for Sustainable Peace and Development in Egypt in November and December respectively.

Osinbajo told the Nigerian media that he would convey El-Sisi's message to Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, adding that, "I would certainly ensure that I convey the strong feelings of the Egyptian government on this point – the GERD – to our president, Muhammadu Buhari, and I believe that, within the auspices of the AU, we would be able to reach a just and fair conclusion to all parties."

Tensions have been building up between Egypt and Ethiopia in recent weeks after talks on the technical details governing the operation of the mega-dam failed to make progress.

However, Egypt's El-Sisi and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed met on the sidelines of the Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi last week and agreed that the independent technical committee discussing the dam should immediately resume its work in a more open and positive way.

Egypt fears that the speed of the filling of the dam will diminish its water supply, which is crucially dependent on the Nile.

But Ethiopia maintains that the 6,000 megawatt dam, which is nearly 70 percent complete, will not restrict the river’s flow.

In return, Abdel-Aal told Osinbajo that the Egyptian state pledges full support for the candidacy of Nigeria's Akinwunmi Adesina, who is running for a second term as president of the African Development Bank (AfDB).

"Egypt and Nigeria are two big nations in Africa in terms of population and capabilities, and we – the Egyptian state – also pledge to put our expertise to foster and strengthen economic relations, especially in the energy sector," Abdel-Aal told Osinbajo.

Abdel-Aal also said that Egypt shares the same view as Nigeria that global concerted efforts are needed to combat terrorism in Africa's Sahel region.

Osinbajo called for greater action on terrorist groups in Africa.

"We want to urge that Egypt join us in calling upon the world, the international community, to immediately see the need for a concerted action against Boko Haram, ISWAP, and terrorist groups operating in the Sahel, in particular.

"We think that it is time for that kind of concerted action in the Sahel, and we believe that we can prevent a situation as seen in some parts of the Middle East where damage to lives and livelihoods was done by ISIS," said Osinbajo, adding that "just as was done in Iraq, where world powers came together to drive out ISIS, that is the sort of cooperation that we should have now to ensure we are able to deal with terrorism, especially the one in the Sahel region of Africa."

In his meeting with Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan, the president of Nigeria's Senate Abdel-Aal said there should be greater coordination between Egypt and Nigeria in the area of legislations that will help fight terrorism, and create sustained job opportunities.

Lawan said Nigeria should learn from Egypt given its experience in combating terrorism.

"Egypt has for long been fighting terrorism even before we started having terrorism in Nigeria," said Lawan, adding that "so we have a lot to learn from your experience in fighting terrorism. Our terrorism started like it was domestic, but now it is no more domestic, it is international."

"So we will continue to have bilateral and multilateral engagements to find the best way to eliminate terrorism," he said.

Lawan expressed appreciation for the Egyptian government for the training of some Nigerian security personnel in the art of fighting terrorism, but lamented that "we still have a lot of challenges in the form of weapons and ammunition coming into Nigeria through North Africa, particularly following the fall of the Libyan government of Muammar Gaddafi."

Abdel-Aal said there should be greater coordination between Egypt, Nigeria and their neighbours Benin, Cameroon, Niger and Chad “so that we can work together to overcome challenges."

The speaker, who was accompanied by Egypt's Ambassador to Nigeria Assem Hanafi, also urged African parliaments to create a unified position on the strategy of fighting terrorism and to present it to the International Parliamentary Union (IPU) for adoption.

Abdel-Aal also met with the speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila on Monday.

Short link: