The presidential seal of Nigeria
The presidential seal of Nigeria Israel news photo

Politicians from Nigeria's small but active Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) are seeking to build stronger ties with Israel's political parties.

The party's national chairman, Larry Esin, led a delegation to the Israeli Embassy in the capital city of Abuja this week and told the Israel Ambassador to Nigeria, Moshe Ram, that he is hoping to strengthen the opposition process in his country through building ties with Israel's lawmakers.

"Nigeria should learn vibrant democratic process, agricultural development and security of lives and property, which PPA is advocating in its manifesto," Esin told the Israeli ambassador. He noted that Israel has achieved remarkable development in all three areas, and said Nigeria has a lot to learn from the Jewish State.

In a carefully worded and courteous response, Ram praised the PPA's support for democracy, especially in the areas of agriculture and security. He noted the success of the multiparty system in the West African nation and its freedom of speech, but sidestepped the issue of linking the PPA with Israeli political parties.

Ram explained such a move would be impossible because the developing Nigerian democracy and the government of Israel are both unique, saying, "There is no equilibrium because the two systems differ." According to the allAfrica news web site, however, the Israeli ambassador said that he would help the PPA obtain consultations with major political parties in Israel.

Nigeria and Israel enjoy strong bilateral relations, especially in the areas of agriculture, tourism, information technology and investment. A biotechnology pact was announced between the two nations last week in Abuja, specifically in the areas of water management and improving and preserving soil quality for greater yield. The two countries also signed a trade agreement in September, the first between Nigeria and Israel. There had already been in existence an educational and cultural cooperation agreement, as well as a bilateral Air Service agreement that was inked in August 2005, but never implemented "due to non-completion of some operational arrangements," according to allAfrica

The PPA, although small, is very active, and won the 2007 elections to control the governorship in two out of 36 states -- Abia State and Imo State. The party also won three out of 360 seats in the Nigerian House of Representatives and one out of 109 seats in the nation's Senate, and is currently a member of the ruling coalition of President Umaru Yar'Adua.

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