By Asmau Ahmad
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday in Madrid met with two Spanish companies doing business in Nigeria and assured of a safe, secure and prosperous country.
At a meeting with executives of GB Foods, which grows tomatoes in Kebbi State, and employs about 5,000 people, the president pledged that the entire country would be secured.
According to him, provision of security is one of the cardinal objectives of his administration, and assured protection for local farmers against smuggling and dumping of foreign products.
“Detractors are working very hard against our efforts. That was why we closed our borders for so long, and the result is evident. We want to grow what we eat, and eat what we grow.
“Thank you for your huge investment in our country, the jobs you create, and skills imparted to our people,” he said.
Chairman of GB Foods, Artur Carulla, described the company as a family business now in its third generation in Africa, and which had invested over 250 billion dollars in countries like Nigeria, Algeria, Ghana and Senegal.
While promising to “double-down in Nigeria,” Carulla added: “Food is all we do. We have been in Africa since the 1970s.
“I am married to an African, and connected emotionally with the continent. We bet on local talents and ingredients. It is good for us, and for Nigeria. We have built three factories in the last five years, and our products are 100 per cent locally manufactured.”
GB Foods pledged that in about two years, it would be en route to supplying 30 per cent of the nation’s tomato needs.
“We will replicate what has happened with rice. We knew what it was before you came,” he said.
At another meeting with Naturgy, a leading Spanish gas company, the president expressed pleasure that the outfit had established a steady partnership with Nigeria in the oil and gas industry.
He said: “I had the opportunity to head the industry for over three years. And a feasibility study showed that we are more of a gas-producing country than oil.
“I’m pleased that you have been our partners for so long, and we are doing our best to stabilize the security situation in the country.”
Francisco Reynes, Chief Executive Officer of Naturgy, said its first contact with Nigeria was in 1992, and since then, they had become one of the largest buyers of Liquified Natural Gas (LNG).
He said Naturgy was interested in extending its relationship with Nigeria on gas, citing its 178 years experience in the business.
“Countries like Algeria, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, and the USA are our suppliers. We want to invest more in Nigeria,” Reynes said.