NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 7 – Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan jetted out of the country on Saturday morning concluding a three-day visit.
Jonathan was escorted to his plane by Deputy President William Ruto who also received him when he landed at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on Thursday.
It was the first time a Nigerian Head of State has visited Kenya in a quarter of a century and President Uhuru Kenyatta received him at State House with the great honour of a 21-gun salute.
“I am particularly grateful to my good friend, His Excellency President Goodluck Jonathan for allowing me to host him and members of his delegation,” President Uhuru Kenyatta said of the visit.
Jonathan was accompanied by a delegation of high ranking government officials and influential businessmen who included the richest man in Africa, Aliko Dangote, who left the country for Abuja on Friday night.
Dangote expressed confidence that as a result of the visit trade between the two nations should double before two years are up, “It’s not in two years, within two years… Kenya Airways might even have to double its flights to Nigeria,” he joked.
Jokes aside, seven bilateral agreements were signed between the two nations including one that exempts holders of diplomatic passports in both Nigeria and Kenya from applying for visas when seeking entry into either country.
The visit also resulted in President Kenyatta directing Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Ole Lenku to facilitate five and 10 year visas for Nigerian entrepreneurs with investments in Kenya.
“We shouldn’t be having hassle at the airport trying to obtain the visa at the airport,” Dangote had posed to the President.
He then went on to give the reason that he plans to invest Sh35 billion in a cement plant in Kitui County, “Every single material that we’ll use for the production of cement about one and half million tonnes will be sourced locally.”
He also said Nigerian bank Zenith is looking to set up office in Kenya, “I’m also a major shareholder of Zenith Bank so we will definitely make sure that Zenith bank will come here.”
Preside Kenyatta has himself planned a second visit to Nigeria early next year as the governments work toward firming up the Memorandums of Understandings signed into implementable agreements.
The Kenya Chamber of Commerce and Industry who signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Nigerian chamber on Friday, is also planning a similar visit in January.
Among the things promised was support for the Kenya Film Commission by their Nigerian counterparts whose films have become a household staple in Kenya.
“Now that my movements are restricted on account of my office, I find myself spending more and more time consuming Nigerian movies,” President Kenyatta joked as he welcomed the move.
Both Goodluck and Kenyatta vowed to back these investments as they work toward increasing intra-African trade from the current 12 percent.
“We would also like to see the value of our exports increase by facilitating the processing of raw material whose finished product we have traditionally, ironically, had to buy back at a greater cost,” President Kenyatta said.
A similar Pan-African sentiment underscored most of Jonathan’s visit with President Kenyatta making no secret that his government’s allegiance lies with Africa.