The Oyo State government has signed a twin Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the French Government to promote a new healthcare initiative and the teaching of French language in the state.
Governor ‘Seyi Makinde, signed the MoU at the Executive Council Chambers of the Governor’s Office, Agodi, Ibadan, with the French government.
The French Government was represented by the French Ambassador to Nigeria, Her Excellency (Mrs.) Emmanuelle Blatmann.
Governor Makinde said that the relationship will help the state in area of commerce, business, labour and education.
He explained that despite the popularity and wide usage of English in Nigeria, it is obvious that French is a major language of international relations capable of boosting commerce, labour, growth and development.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, indicated that the MoU is predicated on a 55m euros loan granted by the French government to Oyo State.
The statement added that the concessionaire loan will be used for the upgrading of Adeoyo State Hospital and other general hospitals across the geopolitical zones of the state.
Speaking at the MoU Signing ceremony, Governor Makinde said: “Let me specially welcome the France Ambassador to Nigeria to Oyo State.
“We are here for a two-pronged engagement, and the entire state is excited because the first agreement, which is on the initiative for health care delivery in Oyo State, is heartwarming. “In 2019, I campaigned on four major pillars, which are health, education, security, and expansion of our economy. Now, the initiative is unfolding before us.
“Again, on the other side of the Memorandum of Understanding, Education is also tied into a major pillar for us, which is crucial. So, we thank you for supporting us. Regarding the commercial agreement on the health care initiative, the Honourable Attorney-General already gave out the data on concessionary loans.
“This agreement we just signed, and we look forward to the agribusiness side of it. The AG has said the loan is in 40 years maturity, which will be a long journey. So, I really want to thank you for this on behalf of the people of Oyo State.
“People may wonder how we could get such a low-interest loan facility – 0.009. I don’t think we can have it better anywhere in the world.
“The second, which is the Memorandum of Understanding that promotes the French language in Oyo State, you will recall that in 2021, we acceded to the request by the French government to release funds for a block of four classrooms with an office building at the Centre for French Language. So, this is what we are building on.
“Recently, we also had the Emmanuel Alayande College of Education upgraded to a University of Education, which will be for training of teachers. We can leverage on that.
“Despite the popularity and wide usage of English in Nigeria and Oyo State, French is a major language of international relations.
“So, it is not out of place that we are signing an MoU to promote the French language in Oyo State. You will also help us with commerce, business, and labor.
“So, let me thank you, Ambassador and the team, for this visit. We hope you will come again as we continue to build on this mutually beneficial relationship. “Two days ago, I was at Igbeti, and one of the requests they put before me was to upgrade the general hospital, and now that they are listening to me, it is going to be upgraded.
“I want to assure you that the next time you come to Oyo State, we will still be here because we know the people will give us four more years.”
Speaking earlier, the French Ambassador to Nigeria, Her Excellency, Mrs. Blatmann, revealed that the concessionaire loan is the first in three decades from the French government to Nigeria, adding that it will help in the provision of quality healthcare, qualitative education and enhance globalization.
“It is a great honour for me and my team to be here today. I wish to remind us that this is the first intentional loan granted by the French treasury for more than three decades and the first to come into the health sector in Nigeria.
“Oyo State is the main partner we have and it is only fair that we start here. We are very proud of Oyo State. We are contributing to confirm the status of the pacesetter state. So, this project explains the relationship between Oyo and France,” she said.
In his address, the state’s Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice, Professor Oyelowo Oyewo, SAN, said that the concessionaire loan of 55 million Euros acquired from the French government for the healthcare initiative will be paid back in 40 years with the interest rate of 0.0009.
Government officials who graced the occasion include, former Deputy Governor in the state, Ambassador Taofeek Arapaja, Oyo State first female speaker, Senator Monsurat Sumonu, Commissioners and other top government functionaries.