Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday said Nigeria is ready to offer technical support to Malawi in her efforts to explore oil in Lake Malawi.
Jonathan said this after arriving in Malawi for a two-day State visit. He is accompanied by a 143-member delegation that includes senior Nigerian government officials and business captains.
Answering questions from journalists at Kamuzu International Airport (KIA), where he was welcomed by President Joyce Banda, Vice-President Khumbo Kachali and some Cabinet ministers, Jonathan said if Malawi requests technical support on possible oil drilling in Lake Malawi, Nigeria will be willing to send experts to help.
Said the Nigerian leader, who arrived at 6.45am: â€œWe have been in the oil business for a very long time and, definitely, we have a number of Nigerians and even foreigners who are like indigenous Nigerians. They can come and assist.â€
He said his visit is meant, among others, to discuss different areas of economic cooperation with Malawi.
â€œThe first and most important thing is for the two countries to have that kind of fraternal relationship. Your President has visited us two times after taking office.
â€œMalawi and Nigeria need to have a robust relationship. Even the late president [Bingu wa Mutharika] visited us, not too long ago before he passed on; which was quite unfortunate and since then I have not been able to come [here],â€ said Jonathan.
From the airport, Jonathan, who was dressed in his trademark traditional attire, visited Lilongwe City Council Civic Offices at City Centre where he was granted the Freedom of the City status to enable him participate in any civic function in the city.
Jonathan and his delegation later held joint bilateral talks with Banda and senior Malawi Government officials at the New State House where foreign ministers for the two countries signed two bilateral agreements.
Presidential press secretary Steven Nhlane said the first agreement was on economic and technical cooperation aimed at providing support to activities of various ministries, enterprises, organisations and institutions as well as establishing a joint commission of cooperation for the two countries.
Nhlane said the second agreement was on technical manpower assistance to provide for the establishment of a technical aid corp volunteers scheme to enable the two countries share expertise in specific areas of development.
Jonathan also visited Kandani Seed Multiplication Centre along the Mchinji Road where he launched a national cassava project. He also attended a business and investment forum.
Banda said seven more bilateral agreements in different areas of cooperation between Malawi and Nigeria are in the pipeline.
As we went to press, Malawi was hosting a State banquet for the Nigerian delegation.