New Delhi, June 5 (IANS) A Nigerian delegation is on a tour of India to understand how the world’s largest democracy has maintained the unity of a very diverse society.
The study tour began Tuesday with a stimulating exchange between scholars and officials of the two countries with similar structures to govern mixed populations.
“We want to see how your economy grew, while Indian democracy has made its fruits available to the people,” said Olu Obafemi, professor and fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Letters and head of the delegation.
He was speaking at a roundtable on “Revitalizing India-Nigeria Relations” organised by the Indian Council of World Affairs.
“We are here to study how you maintain peace in the country, and the kind of legal framework utilized to strengthen institutions in the country,” he added.
The Nigerian delegation, with a fair sprinkling of officials from security services, are on a study tour as part of a training programme by that country’s National Institute of Policy Studies.
Pointing out that India recognized Nigeria as a major power in Africa, Ritu Beri of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis here said: “India and Nigeria are both regional powers with similar worldview with regard to global security issues. We can learn from each other.”
Nigeria, which has a federal constitution and a population composed almost equally of Muslims and Christians, has a history of both democratically elected governments as well as military rule.
It is now battling an Islamic inspired armed insurrection called Boko Harum with links to Al Qaeda in Maghreb (Aqim) operating in north Africa.
Other than terrorism, energy deficit is another non-traditional security concern India and Nigeria can address together, given the African country’s abundant oil resources, Beri said.
Said Rear Admiral Amin Kioda of Nigeria: “We are keen to see how India has been able to accomplish so much without having oil, how you have managed to diversify the economy and how you have won partners for development.”
Lamenting on the lack contact between the two people, V.B. Soni, former ambassador to various African countries, said India was approaching Africa as a partner.
Proof of this was the $5 billion line of credit recently approved by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Nigeria is India’s largest trading partner in Africa. India is also the second largest trading partner for Nigeria, with bilateral trade touching $17 billion in 2011-12.