Margaret A. Botts wrote that the history of ancient Egypt states that one of the pharaohs named Bar Johr, who lived in the 18th century BC, made large-scale conquests with nearly 7,000 fighters to conquer Syria, then turned to the Mediterranean Sea reaching Spain and then went back to his country and passed by the countries of North Africa, and then turned towards the Black River where he met with a great Sultan and they exchanged gifts.
The political ties and trade relations between Egypt and West Africa have begun since that era. Meanwhile, the history of ancient Egypt mentions in some hieroglyphic inscriptions that Abi I of the sixth dynasty, lived in 3700 BC, has been offered gold and gifts from western Sudan, the region now known as West Africa and Nigeria.
Egypt's Relations with the Ancient Kingdoms and Emirates of Nigeria
The geographic region that now represents the Federal Republic of Nigeria has seen different shades of kingdoms and has been introduced to various forms of governments over successive eras; they are the Kingdom of Ghana, the Almoravid dynasty, the Kingdom of Mali, the Kingdom of Songhai, the Kingdom of Kanem–Bornu, Hausa and Yoruba. The relations of those kingdoms with the Islamic world and Egypt were determined through the following paths:
- Trade: Traders have paved the way for the spread of Islam since the first century AH until the Arabs managed to establish their communities in the capitals of these kingdoms.
- Pilgrimage: Muslims in these areas used to perform the Hajj rituals and pass through the Islamic countries and capitals on their way to and from the city of Medina and Mecca.
- Education: Students of Islamic sciences who flowed to the Holy Azhar for education. It is worth mentioning that there is a corridor named Barnawy within the university.
The Relations of the Kanem and Bornu Empire with Egypt
The empire of Kanem and Bornu was established in 1100 AD and lasted to 1800 AD. The dynasty was called "Beni Saif" and was descended from Ḥimyarite Kingdom in ancient Yemen. The Kanem and Bornu Empire expanded in the era of king Dunama I during which trade and academic movements were enhanced. Moreover, cultural and commercial relations with Egypt were close, as the people of the empire believed in the Maliki Madhab. Rulers of the empire established a Maliki school in Cairo known as the Ibn Rashiq School for foreign students in Egypt. Also, Arabic was the language of learning and the official language of the empire.
The relations of the Hausa and Yoruba with Egypt
The Hausa and Yoruba kingdoms were established in the southeast of the Atlantic coast, particularly in the region of Nigeria and Benin, whose inhabitants converted to Islam in the 11th century by virtue of trade exchange and dispatched preachers who moved from one country to another in search of science and livelihood and were later followed by the inhabitants of the two kingdoms who embraced the Islamic religion for their good behavior.
After the spread of Islam in this region, the people were performing the Hajj, which was then taking several months. The pilgrims, used to go in convoys towards the east, earning money in their way through trade or industry. Some of those pilgrims began to teach during their trip, while others intended to learn and thus, headed to Al-Azhar in Egypt to learn from its elders and scholars, where they became friends with them and benefited from their science.
At a later stage, after the consolidation of the Islamic religion as the official religion of Hausa and Yoruba kingdoms, knowledge congresses led by religious personnel from Egypt and North African countries were held in these kingdoms.
In the first half of the 19th century, after the establishment of a new era in the country under the leadership of Sheikh Usuman dan Fodio in 1804, Islamic and Arabic language sciences flourished, and communications with North Africa, Egypt, the Azhar and the Arabian Peninsula were enhanced.
In 1861, the British colonized the ancient capital of Nigeria; the State of Lagos. They also occupied the southern lands of Nigeria in 1900 and the northern regions in 1903. During the colonization, the use of Arabic language deteriorated and declined in favor of English language.
In spite of this deterioration, there were a group of intellectuals capable of merging both the Arab and Western cultures. They occupied government offices and some of them worked in politics. They began to show signs of renewal in the 1930s. Among those intellectuals was the prince of Arabic poetry at that time Al-Wazir Junayd who traveled a lot and documented his continuous interest in Egypt in one of his poems, as saying:
When we arrived and our souls rested reassured...we stayed at a gorgeous motel
On the shore of the blessed Nile we established ....smelling its breeze and the aroma of umber
It enjoys our eyes every day ... and pleases our consciences
There are thousand bright lights, as if.... they are beautiful faces on high pulpits
After the revolution of July 23, 1952, the African continent received special attention from Egypt’s part. It was of a focus of interest to the late leader Gamal Abdel Nasser. In his book "Philosophy of the Revolution", Nasser gave an emphasis on the fact that the African continent is the second circle of interest in Egypt’s foreign policy after the Arab and Islamic circles. He considered the liberation of African countries a continuation of the liberation of Egypt, for Africa is Egypt's strategic depth and one of the main pillars of the third world and the non-aligned countries.
On November 16, 1960, the United Arab Republic sent a friendship and honorary mission to Nigeria to attend the celebrations held in the State of Lagos on the occasion of the inauguration of President Benjamin Nnamdi Azikiwe, the then Governor General of Nigeria. The Mission, headed by Mr. Kamal El-Sayed, delivered a personal message to the President of Nigeria and an invitation to visit the United Arab Republic. President Azikiwe expressed Nigeria’s full respect for President Gamal Abdel Nasser, and said that the Nigerians were proud to lead the march of liberation of the African peoples.
The diplomatic relations between the two countries began in 1961; one year after the independence of Nigeria, when Egypt opened its embassy in the capital of Lagos. Besides, Egypt assisted Nigeria by providing the necessary human expertise as it dispatched 300 Egyptian doctors to work with the Nigerian government to meet the needs of the Nigerian people after the departure of a number of European experts.
In 1965, President Gamal Abdel Nasser paid a short visit to Nigeria when his plane stopped at the airport of Kano State for refueling during his return to Cairo after his historic visit to Guinea. In response to a question came up by the press, Nasser said: "I hope that my short and enjoyable visit has contributed to promoting the relations between the United Arab Republic and Nigeria. The United Arab Republic will do its best to backing Nigeria and is ready to cooperate fully with other African countries in favor of the unity of Africa". Meanwhile, President Nasser toured the streets of Kano State for hours in a convertible car, where the Nigerians received him with great hospitality.
Egypt Assists Nigeria to End Civil War in Biafra
On May 30, 1967, the civil war broke out in Nigeria. The military governor of the eastern region of Nigeria Colonel Agogo announced the independence of the Republic of Biafra. Colonel Agogo imposed customs duties and revenues on oil companies to be paid to his new government. Also, he seized number of planes that were operated by European mercenaries. Thus, the federal Nigeria was facing the risk of disintegration after the separation of a crucial oil- rich region.
In August 1967, President Gamal Abdel Nasser received a letter from the federal governor of Nigeria Colonel Yakubu Gowon emphasizing the danger his country was encountering because of the raids launched by Agogo, who was bombing the capital Lagos daily without any resistance, which caused a state of panic swept across the Nigerian people and the inhabitants of the capital in particular.
In his message, Gowon said he had obtained a number of MiGs-17 from the Soviet Union but could not find pilots who could operate on those planes. He asked President Nasser to use his influence to convince the Algerian President Houari Boumédiène to provide him with a number of trained Algerian pilots due to its inability to obtain qualified pilots from anywhere else, including the Soviet Union.
It was clear to President Nasser that the secession of this region was meant to create a new entity that would not only threaten the stability of the federation of the Nigerian state, but also the entire continent. As a result, Nasser decided to help the federal government of Nigeria in order to eliminate the secessionists and to maintain the federal Nigeria by responding to Colonel Gowon’s request to send the needed pilots. Subsequently, the Nigerian government contracted with retired pilots from the Egyptian air force so as to avoid the international complications resulting from the direct intervention of Egypt in the Nigerian affaires.
The Egyptian pilots succeeded in stopping the secessionists’ air raids due to the superiority of the Russian MiGs-17 over the aircraft used by the secessionists. The people received the MiGs-17 flying in the skies of the capital Lagos with joy and applause as they were living in terror because of the secessionists’ airstrikes.
The duty of the Egyptian pilots was to defend the skies of Nigeria in the areas designated for them, as well as to hit the airport in Biafra, which was controlled by the secession movement in order to stop the military supplies. As the civil war continued, the number of Egyptian pilots in Nigeria increased. An aviation school was established in the State of Lagos to train Nigerian fighter pilots, and the Egyptian pilots stayed in Nigeria until the victory of the Nigeria's federal forces enforcing Agogo to flee to the Ivory Coast, his forces to surrender and thus the secessionists were eliminated.
Undoubtedly, Nasser's revolutionary decision to send Egyptian fighter pilots to Nigeria had a great impact on resolving the dispute in favor of the federal forces. The Nigerians still appreciate the stance of Egypt and Nasser, as it had a direct influence on enhancing the Egyptian-Nigerian friendship in all fields.
In September 1970, after the victory of the federal government over the secessionists and its restoration of the lands of Nigeria, the Nigerian President Yakubu Gowon expressed his thanks and appreciation to President Nasser, and then headed to Cairo as the first capital to visit after the end of the civil war in his country. During his visit, the Nigerian President expressed his desire to consolidate friendship with Egypt, especially in the field of trade and technical exchange, and indeed the relations between the two countries had been enhanced, as the number of Egyptians working in Nigeria, especially doctors, engineers and university professors who were dispatched to the University of Ibadan increased significantly.
At the same time, the Egyptian El-Nasr Company for Import and Export expanded its work in Nigeria to share in the marketing and selling of Nigerian crops to the whole world and increase trade volume between the two countries.
After the death of President Nasser, President Anwar Sadat received a number of African leaders who visited Cairo, including the Nigerian President Yakubu Gowon.
Nigeria's Stance on the October 1973 war
In addition to seventeen African countries, Nigeria has severed relations with Israel in solidarity with Egypt during the war to liberate the Egyptian territory from the Israeli occupation in 1973. The decision came to demonstrate Nigeria’s absolute and decisive rejection of the Israeli occupation of Arab territories.
Egyptian-Nigerian Cooperation after Independence
After the political independence and the liberation of most African countries from colonialism, cooperation to achieve economic and social development became the common goal of African States and peoples.
In this context, the Egyptian-Nigerian relations continued and were strengthened during that period as both countries had been members in the Organization of African Unity (currently the African Union), as well as many regional organizations in Africa. In 2001, Nigeria and Egypt joined the Community of Sahel-Saharan States CEN-SAD during its third summit in Sudan. Besides, the two countries, along with Libya and Tunisia, participated in the Economic Commission whose task was to study means of establishing a free trade zone among the Sahel-Saharan States. Under the umbrella of joint cooperation, the Commission was assigned to follow up the economic issues among the countries of the CEN-SAD. In 2007, the Community of Sahel-Saharan States formed a commission of Egypt, Nigeria, Sudan, Libya and Djibouti to end the war in Somalia, in coordination with the Security Council.
In July 2001, the Summit of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) held in Zambia endorsed the agreement of Egypt, Algeria, Nigeria, South Africa and Senegal to launch the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), which expresses the African vision for the economic and social development of the African continent.
In June 2004, Egypt signed a framework agreement with the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA). The agreement established a strong tie with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), led by Nigeria and hosted in Abuja.
At the same time, the coordination and communication between Egypt and Nigeria continued through several channels, including meetings and visits by officials of both countries, most notably:
In June 2010, the Permanent Secretary of the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs paid a visit to Cairo where he met with the then Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit to deliver a presidential invitation to the D8 Development Summit. During the visit, the two officials discussed bilateral relations.
In October 2010, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nigeria visited Cairo where he met with the Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit to discuss means of activating the joint commission. The two ministers also agreed to promote a mechanism for regular political consultation between the two countries. The Nigerian Minister met with the Egyptian Ministers of Interior, International Cooperation and health, where he discussed ways to strengthen cooperation between the two countries in many areas.
The Nigerian Minister was accompanied by a delegation of Nigerian entrepreneurs who met with their Egyptian counterparts, where they discussed opportunities to enhance trade exchange between the two countries.
In February 2013, the Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation participated in a conference on the importance of developing drinking water and irrigation projects in Nigeria. The Minister discussed Egypt's readiness to provide all forms of technical support and training to Nigeria in this field. He also presented Egypt's experience in supplying drinking water and cleaning drainage to Egyptian villages.
In November 21, 2013, Egypt and Nigeria signed a memorandum of understanding establishing the mechanism of political consultation between the two ministries of foreign affairs and the conduction of the first round of consultations in Cairo. The memorandum aims to support and push forward the political relations between the two countries. Meanwhile, the memorandum is considered the nucleus of the strategic dialogue between the two countries on international and regional issues of common concern.
On December 2, 2013, Minister of Trade and Industry Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour discussed with his Nigerian counterpart Olsen Ajanga the importance of benefiting from the economic progress of Egypt and Nigeria at the African level through the mutual coordination at both international and regional trade forums. Besides, the two ministers reviewed the importance of achieving joint industrial integration between the two countries.
In February 2014, the Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy discussed with the Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja the issue of water security in the light of the construction of the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. The two sides also discussed the importance of enhancing joint cooperation in the fields of anti-terrorism and religious extremism as well as means of propagating tolerant and moderate values of Islam through training and information sharing. The Nigerian officials welcomed the joint cooperation with Egypt in the field of anti-terrorism. Moreover, Minister Nabil Fahmy extended greetings and congratulations of the Egyptian President Adly Mansour to the Nigerian President on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the unification of his country.
Nigeria's Stance on the 2013 Revolution
Nigeria supported the will of the Egyptian people during the January 2011 revolution. Following the 30th of June revolution 2013, Nigeria asserted that the suspension of Egypt's activity in the African Union was a temporary routine. The Nigerian diplomacy contributed to the rapid rectification of that suspension in the African Union. On July 20, 2013, the Nigerian Presidency issued a statement saying that President Goodluck Jonathan asserted, during his meeting with the envoy of the then Egyptian President Adly Mansour Ambassador Raouf Saad, Nigeria's readiness to cooperate with the countries of the world on anti-terrorism. The Nigerian President also informed the Egyptian President's envoy that Nigeria and the African Union were ready to provide the necessary support to achieve political stability in Egypt to return to normal life. He further described Egypt as the pivotal state in the African continent saying that what happened in Egypt affected all African countries.
For his part, Ambassador Raouf Saad said -after his meeting with the Nigerian president- that the decision of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union on the suspension of Egypt's activities in the AU was merely a routine and temporary decision, adding that he would consult with African leaders. Saad emphasized that the most important contribution of the revolution is realization of the importance of Egypt’s relations with Africa and opening a new phase of prosperous relations between Egypt and the African countries.
Ambassador Saad pointed out that the Nigerian President expressed his consent for the return of stability in Egypt through the implementation of the road map, describing Egypt as a key State in the African continent.
In August 2013, Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy met with his Nigerian counterpart on the sidelines of the Arab-African Summit held in Kuwait in which the Nigerian Foreign Minister expressed her country's support for Egypt's political process aiming to follow the democratic path. Moreover, she emphasized the solidarity of the Nigerian people with the Egyptian people at that stage.
Since 2014, the relations between Egypt and Nigeria have been strengthened over many areas. There is multifarious coordination between the two countries on various political issues in Africa, especially in Sudan and Somalia. The two countries also cooperate in the fight against terrorism and extremism they are facing as well as in the fields of development in Africa.
The Egyptian embassy in Abuja, which was constructed by the Egyptian Arab Contractors Company at the end of 2013, is the largest in the African continent, in addition to the Egyptian Cultural Center in the northern State of Kano and the trade office in the capital of Lagos.
The most significant aspects of continuous communication, consultation and coordination between Egypt and Nigeria in the years following 2014 can be stated as follows:
- In March 2015, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry attended the inauguration ceremony of the Nigerian President Mohammed Buhari after his success in the presidential elections. Shoukry said that his participation indicated Egypt's keenness in developing its relations with Nigeria in various fields, especially in the field of combating terrorism.
- On April 20, 2015, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi made a phone call to the Nigerian President-elect Muhammadu Buhari congratulating him on his success in the Nigerian presidential elections. During the call, the President formally invited his Nigerian counterpart to visit Egypt to discuss means of enhancing bilateral relations as well as regional and international issues of common interest, topped by the issues of anti- terrorism, security and stability in the African continent and ways to achieve the envisaged development for the peoples of the two countries.
- In March 2016, the Assistant to the President of the Republic Engineer Ibrahim Mahlab visited Nigeria, where he met with a number of Nigerian officials and the well-known Nigerian entrepreneur Aliko Dangote, the richest in the continent, to discuss the potentials of investing in Egypt, especially in real estate sector, and the consolidation of means of cooperation between Egypt and Nigeria in various fields, as well as the recruitment of Egyptian efficient cadres and expertise in various areas in Nigeria.
- In March 2016, the Nigerian Minister of Economy and the entrepreneur Aliko Dangote participated in the conference entitled "Support and Development of the Egyptian Economy" and played a major role in the conference. He asked President Sisi to enhance trade exchange between Nigeria and Egypt and President Sisi said "Nigeria and Egypt are two big countries, and the trade volume between them must be increased".
- On May 20, 2016, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi received a telephone call from the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari expressing his sincere condolences to the leadership, government and people of Egypt on the victims of Egypt Air plane. The Nigerian President expressed his country's full solidarity with Egypt in this tragic incident. For his part, President Sisi expressed his deep thanks and appreciation to the Nigerian President and stressed the depth of the relations between Egypt and Nigeria at the official and popular levels. He also affirmed Egypt keenness on developing the relations between the two countries on different areas.
- In August 2016, the Nigerian President Boukhari praised the Egyptian-Nigerian relations, which he described as historic. This was during a reception organized by the Nigerian President for the Egyptian Ambassador to Nigeria on the occasion of the end of his tenure. The President also expressed his appreciation for the assistance provided by the holy Azhar to displaced persons’ camps in areas that was controlled by the terrorist group Boko Haram.
- On January 14, 2017, President Abdul Fattah El-Sisi received the special envoy of the Nigerian President and the former Minister of Environment Mrs. Amina J. Mohammed as well as the First Assistant to the Nigerian President for International Relations Affairs Mr. Ahmed Al-Rifai. Mrs. Amina delivered a letter from President Muhammadu Buhari to President Sisi on means to boost friendship and cooperation between the two countries in various fields. The Nigerian officials affirmed the importance of coordination between the two countries in the light of common interests and challenges they were facing.
- In January 2017, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry met with Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama on the sidelines of their meetings in the 28th session of the African Union in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa. The two ministers discussed joint coordination in the field of confronting terrorist groups on the light of their membership in the African Peace and Security Council. Furthermore, the two Ministers met in July 2017 during the 31st Ordinary Session of the Executive Council at the level of the African Union Foreign Ministers.
- On March 21, 2017, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi made a telephone call to the President of Nigeria Muhammadu Buharito to check on his health after he returned back home from a medical treatment travel, wishing him health and speedy recovery. President Sisi also stressed the significance of the relations between Egypt and Nigeria and the need to promote those relations in various fields. In the meantime, President Sisi invited the Nigerian president to visit Egypt to continue coordination and intensive consultation between the two countries on issues of common concern. President Buhari expressed his appreciation and thanks to President Sisi for his good gesture and signaled the depth of the relations between the Egyptian and Nigerian people, stressing his keenness to develop relations between the two countries so as to reflect the historic bonds of friendship and cooperation. The Nigerian president also praised the Egyptian efforts to promote joint cooperation on the African continent, for the interest of the countries and peoples of the continent.
- In September 2018, the Assistant to the President of the Republic for National and Strategic Projects Engineer Sherif Ismail visited Nigeria, where he was received by the Nigerian President Muhammadu Bukhari. Engineer Ismail delivered a message from President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to the Nigerian President stressing the importance of enhancing relations between the two countries in various fields and the readiness of Egypt to provide expertise to fulfill the needs of the Nigerian people, especially in the area of infrastructure, given that many Egyptian companies have operated successfully over the past years in Nigeria and Africa in general in this field, in addition to Egypt’s willingness to cooperate in the areas of health and agriculture.
Besides, Ismail met with the Foreign Minister of Nigeria where the two sides discussed means of enhancing cooperation and coordination between the two countries, especially with Egypt’s taking up the presidency of the African Union in 2019. Ismail also met with the Nigerian Ministers of Energy, Employment and Housing to discuss prospected areas to which the Egyptian companies can contribute, topped by the Arab Constructors Company as well as other companies that can work in the development of the infrastructure in Nigeria.
- On October 8, 2018, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi made a telephone call to the Nigerian President Muhammadu Boukhari, during which President Sisi affirmed Egypt's appreciation for the distinguished bilateral relations with Nigeria and expressed his hope to continue to boost cooperation in various fields. In the meantime, President Boukhari stressed the willingness of Nigeria to activate the existing cooperation frameworks, and praised the level of coordination and consultation between the two countries on various regional issues in support of the joint African action.
- On March 4, 2019, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi sent a cable of congratulation to the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on the occasion of his re-election for a new presidential term. President Sisi wished him success as well as further progress and prosperity for the Nigerian people. He also praised the strong and distinguished Egyptian-Nigerian relations and emphasized the keenness of the two countries to strengthen their relations and push forward the frameworks of joint cooperation to wider horizons to achieve the interests of the two peoples.
Security Cooperation between Egypt and Nigeria in Anti- Terrorism and Combating Extremism
The security cooperation in the field of countering terrorism and extremism is one of the significant areas of cooperation between Egypt and Nigeria in the second decade of the 21st century, as the two countries have faced threats of terrorist organizations and groups. Most of them are cross-border organizations, fueled by the same radical ideology and misinterpretation of Islam. Given the successful experience of Egypt in combating terrorist groups since 2014, and its keenness on the international cooperation for comprehensive confrontation of terrorism and extremism, as well as its embrace of the holy Azhar as a beacon of moderate Islamic thoughts and a universal reference for Muslims, thereby Egypt cooperates with Nigeria in the field of ideological and security fight against terrorism and extremism.
Egypt's Support for Nigeria in Anti- Terrorism
The Egyptian vision in countering terrorism stems from a firm and consistent belief that the various terrorist organizations represent a threat to the stability of the entire world and that they are all drawing upon the same sources of extremist misconceptions that incite violence and murder and intimidate safe people.
From this perspective, the Egyptian State and Al-Azhar have had clear cut stands on the crimes of Boko Haram terrorist group against the civilians, the army of Nigeria and the neighboring countries in West Africa as well. In this regard, the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Al-Azhar held meetings and issued statements denouncing those terrorist acts, the most prominent of which are:
Egyptian Foreign Ministry Statements on Terrorism in Nigeria
- On January 14, 2014, the Spokesperson of the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed Egypt's condemnation of the terrorist attack that took place in the north-east of Nigeria, perpetrated by the Boko Haram group. The Ministry offered the sincere condolences of the Egyptian Government and people to the victims of the tragic terrorist act. Also, the statement stressed that terrorism is a global phenomenon that requires concerted regional and international efforts to confront it.
- On July 6, 2014, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry issued a statement in response to the terrorist attacks perpetrated by suspected members of the extremist Boko Haram group in the north-east of Nigeria. The Spokesperson of the Foreign Ministry expressed Egypt's condemnation of these terrorist attacks that targeted civilians, and resulted in the death and injury of dozens of innocent citizens. He also reaffirmed the solidarity of Egypt with the government and the friendly people of Nigeria in countering terrorism and extremism.
- On November 23, 2014, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed Egypt's full condemnation of the terrorist attack perpetrated by the Boko Haram terrorist group in the north-east of Nigeria, which killed 48 fish vendors on the banks of Lake Chad. The Ministry stressed Egypt's condemnation of all forms of violence and terrorism, emphasizing that terrorism is a global phenomenon that targets security, stability and development all over the world.
- On March 9, 2015, the Foreign Ministry condemned, in the strongest words, the crimes committed by the terrorist group of Boko Haram in northern Nigeria. It reaffirmed the Egyptian perspective of the necessity of countering all terrorist groups without exception, and the need for all countries of the world to stand together in the face of this abhorrent phenomenon that targets security and stability all over the world.
- On July 4, 2015, Egypt strongly denounced the terrorist attacks committed by the Boko Haram group in Nigeria, which resulted in the killing of 200 victims. The Egyptian Foreign Ministry stressed Egypt's solidarity with the government and the people of Nigeria in the face of brutal terrorism.
- On May 30, 2015: On his participation in the inauguration ceremony of the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, the Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry expressed Egypt's full solidarity with Nigeria in its war against the Boko Haram terrorist group and the importance of adopting a comprehensive vision in the fight against terrorism due to the ideological and operational liaison between terrorist organizations in spite of their different titles.
- On November 11, 2017: On his participation in the session of “Building State Institutions in Conflict Zones” at the World Youth Forum in Sharm El-Sheikh city, the Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry called on the European Union to shut down websites and satellite channels that pursue to attract and recruit young people to terrorist organizations and to spread misconceptions.
In this context, Shoukry added: ‘We also have experiences in the cooperation with the African Union through participating in the meetings of the Sahel-Saharan States. We are helping Nigeria in the face of Boko Haram… We have made many achievements. Terrorism knows no borders… Africa is in a complicated situation because of ethnic, sectarian and ideological differences”.
- On April 2, 2018, Egypt denounced the terrorist attack perpetrated by the Boko Haram terrorist group in the north-east of Nigeria namely the city of Maiduguri, which resulted in at least 18 people killed and 84 others injured. The Egyptian Foreign Ministry expressed its sincere condolences to the families of the victims, stressing that the Egyptian government and people stand with the brotherly government and people of Nigeria in their fight against terrorism to eradicate its roots. Moreover, the Foreign Ministry stressed that these despicable terrorist acts will not undermine the determination of the Nigerian people to confront terrorism that targets the security and stability in all societies.
- On May 1, 2018, Egypt condemned in a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the two terrorist acts that targeted a mosque and a market in the north-east of Nigeria in the city of Mubi and resulted in the killing of at least 60 persons and the injuring of others.
The statement expressed Egypt’s sincere condolences to the families of the victims, stressing that the Egyptian government and people stand with the friendly government and people of Nigeria to fight against terrorism and eradicate its roots. It also stressed that such despicable terrorist operations would not undermine the determination of the Nigerian people to confront the phenomenon of terrorism that targeted security and stability in all societies.
Al-Azhar's Stands on Terrorism in Nigeria
- On 4 May 2014, the Holy Azhar denounced the abduction of a group of female students from their school in Nigeria on the hands of the terrorist group of Boko Haram. The group announced that these girls were captives who would be sold and married by force. Al-Azhar stressed that this behavior did not relate to the tolerant and noble teachings of Islam in any way, and was completely contrary to the teachings and principles of the Islamic religion.
- On November 29, 2014, Al-Azhar denounced the terrorist attack on the Grand Mosque in the State of Kano in the north of Nigeri committed by the Boko Haram group and resulted in 120 people killed and 270 others injured.
- On January 14, 2015, Al-Azhar denounced the terrorist attack perpetrated by the Boko Haram group in the city of Baga in the northeastern Nigerian State, which resulted in the burning of the town and the killing of many victims.
Al-Azhar stressed its rejection for such criminal acts, which breached the right of human to safe life, and were considered a clear violation of the teachings of Islam and its tolerant principles.
Furthermore, Al-Azhar called on the need to confront terrorist groups that did not respect the sanctity of blood with force and firmness, stressing that all acts of killing, burning and destruction had nothing to do with the teachings of Islam.
- On May 17, 2016, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Sheikh Dr. Ahmed El-Tayeb visited Nigeria, where he stressed that the terrorist group of Boko Haram and other terrorist groups did not represent Islam. He added that Islam has never been a religion of murder, violence or destruction; however it is a religion that calls for life, peace, mercy and building.
- During his visit to Nigeria, Dr. El-Tayeb visited the refugees’ camp in the Nigerian capital of Abuja, where he stressed the solidarity of the Holy Azhar with the people who were displaced because of terrorist acts.
Dr. El-Tayeb told hundreds of refugees who received him "We are with you, and will not leave you… we stand in solidarity with your cause, and will provide you support and assistance so that you can live in peace and security”.
He also announced that Al-Azhar would send a convoy of medical and food aids to alleviate the sufferings of displaced persons, and would provide 10 scholarships for the young people of the camp to study in Al-Azhar, stressing that the support was not confined to only medicine and food, but also moral and intellectual one.
- On February 26, 2018, Al-Azhar condemned the Boko Haram group’s kidnapping of girls for the second time, and stressed that this crime fell into the category of spreading evil on earth and was considered a blatant violation of the teachings of Islam. Al-Azhar asserted that such criminal acts threaten the security and spread chaos and panic, as well as distort Islam and its tolerant sharia, which is far from these brutal crimes.
- On September 2, 2018, Al-Azhar condemned the terrorist attack perpetrated by Boko Haram group on August 30, 2018 and targeted a military base in the north-east of Nigeria. The attack resulted in the killing of 30 soldiers. Al-Azhar affirmed its strong condemnation of this shameful attack, calling on the international community to exert efforts to stop the bloodshed and to eradicate terrorist groups.
- On December 27, 2018, the World Organization for Al-Azhar Graduates condemned the terrorist attack committed by the Boko Haram terrorist group in the north-east of Nigeria, killing 13 soldiers and injuring others.
- On February 17, 2019, the Al-Azhar Observatory to Combat Extremism mourned the victims of the terrorist attack on a mosque in the city of Maiduguri; the Borno State in north-eastern Nigeria and condemned the acts of the terrorist group of Boko Haram. The Observatory also stressed that the desperate attempts of the Boko Haram were the most blatant evidence on the dismal failure of the bloodiest arms of ISIS in the African continent. The attack on the mosque resulted in the killing of 11 persons and the injuring of 15 others.
- On March 28, 2019, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Dr. Ahmed Al-Tayeb received the Grand Mufti of Nigeria Sheikh Ibrahim Saleh Al-Hussaini. During the meeting, Dr. Al-Tayeb said that the West African region had a long history in serving Islam and preserving the Islamic heritage. He added that Nigerian Scholars had made significant contributions to the Islamic civilization, and that the Islamic moderate approach had played a major role in the social and cultural advancement of this region over history.
The Grand Imam said that Al-Azhar was exerting great efforts to confront extremism and terrorism, and to address the deviant thoughts that were extraneous to the African societies, stressing that Al-Azhar relied on its African graduates to spread the moderate thoughts in their societies.
For his part, Sheikh Ibrahim Al-Hussaini stressed Nigeria's appreciation and adherence to the Al-Azhar approach, noting that this approach has maintained the coexistence and cohesion of the Nigerian society as well as all African societies that enjoy diversity and cultural richness.
The Mufti of Nigeria expressed his country's great appreciation for Al-Azhar’s support in various fields of science and advocacy. Besides, he pointed out that Al-Azhar's numerous efforts in Africa contributed strongly to the war against groups of violence and terrorism and enhanced stability and social security of the peoples of the continent.
On the other hand, Nigeria expressed support for Egypt in the face of terrorism on several occasions, as follows:
- On July 20, 2013, the Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan condemned the terrorist attacks in the Sinai Peninsula, which led to the death of innocent victims.
- On November 27, 2017, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi received a telephone call from the President of Nigeria Muhammadu Buhari who expressed his sincere condolences to families of the victims of the Al-Rawda Mosque terrorist act. President Buhari condemned the treacherous terrorist incident and wished the injured speedy recovery. Also, he stressed the importance of enhancing cooperation among African countries to confront this grave threat. On his part, President Sisi expressed his appreciation for the condolences of the President of Nigeria and stressed the strength and depth of the relations between the two countries and peoples.
The economic relations between Egypt and Nigeria have started since the first day of Nigeria's independence. The Nigerians have drawn on Egyptian expertise in many fields in the early stages of building the modern State of Nigeria after the independence. In later stages, the cooperation in the fields of economic and social development has become at the forefront of the collaboration between the two countries.
The economic relations between Egypt and Nigeria were strengthened by virtue of the two countries’ membership of economic communities and strategic partnerships in Africa, as the two countries joined the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD) in 2001. Egypt also enjoys an observer status in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS); the largest economic community in Africa that was established in 1993 and Nigeria is the key State in this community and is hosting its headquarters.
Since 2001, Egypt and Nigeria have joined the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) initiative, which incorporates a comprehensive African strategy for the economic and social development of the continent and was also co-founded by Algeria, South Africa and Senegal.
Egypt and Nigeria Business Council
The Nigerian Egyptian Business Council was established in May 2008 and registered with the Nigerian authorities in 2009 to foster economic cooperation between the two countries. A similar council was established in Cairo under the title of the Egyptian Nigerian Business Council and included the largest Egyptian companies keen on cooperation with Nigeria, such as: (Arab Contractors - Orascom – El Swedey - EgyptAir). In February 28, 2018, the Minister of Trade and Industry discussed with his Nigerian counterpart means of boosting inter-trade and joint investments. It was also agreed to form the joint Egyptian-Nigerian Business Council, and to sign a memorandum of understanding between the two countries determining the tasks and terms of reference of the Council and its role in promoting trade exchange and investment relations between Egypt and Nigeria.
- On January 17, 2014, Egypt participated in the conference of the Leading Group on Innovative Finance for Development in developing countries held in the Nigerian capital of Abuja, under the chairmanship of Nigeria. The aim of the conference was to find innovative sources of funding such as additional fees for airline tickets or bank transfers to be used in the development processes of developing countries.
Trade Exchange between Egypt and Nigeria
Although there are many opportunities and great potentials of the economies of both Nigeria and Egypt, as well as the large volume of their trade exchange with the countries all over the world and international communities, the trade volume between the two countries is relatively low and does not match with the deep relations between the two countries in many fields.
The average value of trade exchange between Egypt and Nigeria is about $ 150 million. However, in 2016, there was a temporary spike in the volume of trade exchange, as Egypt imported large amounts of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Nigeria, raising the trade value to nearly $ 500 million. This was before Egypt achieved self-sufficiency in natural gas consumption in 2018.
- The main Egyptian exports to Nigeria are: urea, petrochemicals, sugar, household appliances, and ceramics, in addition to other products such as yarns, soap, clothes and cables.
- The most significant Egyptian imports from Nigeria are sesame seeds, raw wood, aluminum alloys, beans and crustaceans, natural rubber, cocoa paste, and others.
Investment between Egypt and Nigeria
Egypt is working to achieve joint industrial cooperation with Nigeria and the re-exportation to the markets of the 15 member states of the ECOWAS. The visits of official delegations, business gatherings and missions are encouraged to promote cooperation between the two countries in the sectors of agriculture, industry, health and oil as well as the participation in exhibitions in both countries.
Egyptian Companies Operating in Nigeria
The most prominent aspects of the economic cooperation between Egypt and Nigeria can be represented in the operation of a number of Egyptian companies in Nigeria, the most important of which is the Arab Contractors Company, which has started operating there since 1992, in addition to other companies working in the fields of renewable energy, cables (El Sewedy Company), infrastructure, medicines, Mantrac Group as well as other companies that invest in Nigeria, the most prominent of these companies are:
- Egypt Air has been operating in Nigeria since the 1960s and has played a major role in strengthening relations between the two countries. In June 2009, the company opened a direct flight from Abuja to Cairo which witnessed a high turnout of about 80%, as well as other direct flights to the two states of Kano in the north and Lagos in the south. On April 12, 2013, the company decided to increase number of flights between Cairo and Nigerian cities to 19 flights per week to meet the increasing demand of Nigerian and foreign nationals residing in Nigeria.
In 2013, the company acquired a share in the program of the transportation of pilgrims in direct flights from the center of Nigeria to the city of Medina.
On January 8, 2014, a cooperation agreement was signed between the company and a Nigerian charity foundation for cancer treatment to develop the educational hospital of Lagos State and to provide the necessary equipment for the hospital. Egypt Air also sponsored concerts of Egyptian folk artistic shows whose revenues are used in the development of the hospital, and the training of its staff to empower them to treat the children of Nigeria who suffer from cancer.
- The Arab Contractors Company started operations in Nigeria in 1991 and carried out several construction works in Nigeria, such as:
- Establishment of a multi-purpose convention center in Imo state of Nigeria with a value of LE 91.7 million.
- Provision of engineering infrastructure of the Wuye district for the Federal Capital Development Authority with a value of $ 264 million. The project began in 2009 and ended in 2014.
- Construction of Owerri- Elele Road in the State of Imo with the contract sum of $ 143 million. The project started in 2010 and ended in 2014.
- Establishment of the Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt in favor of the General Authority for financing the buildings of Foreign Affairs Ministry Fund with a value of $ 17.7 million. The project started in 2010 and ended in 2012.
- Construction of the roads of Calabar city, the Cross River State, for the Nigerian Ministry of Works, with a value of LE 219 million.
- Construction of the infrastructure of the tourist area of Lekki coast, for the Federal Capital Authority with a value of LE 28 million.
- The housing of the Obajana Cement Factory, for the Dangote industries limited with a value of $ 63 million.
- Construction of roads leading to the cement factory, for the Nigeria Cement Company Orascom with a value of LE 82 million.
- Construction of the premises of the governor of Lagos State, for the Ministry of Works, with a value of LE 111 million.
- Rehabilitation of Victoria Road, for the Victorian neighborhood, with a value of $ 4.5 million.
- Infrastructure of Utako District, Abuja.
- Liki Housing Project in the State of Lagos, with a value of $ 1.5 million.
- Building of the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation in Abuja, with a total of US $ 17.9 million.
Orascom Construction Company
Orascom Construction has entered the Nigerian market since 2005. One of the most important projects executed by Orascom was the construction of the largest cement factory in Calabar city in southern Nigerian.
In recent years, the companies of EGYPRO, Mantrac for electrical appliances and El Sewedy cables have operated in the Nigerian market.
Cooperation between Egypt and Nigeria in cultural, educational and scientific fields is significant. A number of cultural, religious, educational and social institutions in both countries promote these relations, in addition to some other institutions of a media and cultural nature.
The Holy Azhar and its Role in Promoting Cultural and Educational Relations with Nigeria
In cooperation with the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs and the Ministry of Awqaf, Al-Azhar University offers scholarships to Nigerian students at the levels of university students and postgraduates as well. They also dispatch scholars to various Nigerian regions to work as imams in mosques and to teach in Islamic centers. Besides, they send books and references needed by the scholars. Al-Azhar also founded the Azhari Institute in the Nigerian city of Kano.
The historic visit by the Grand Imam of the Azhar to Nigeria in May 2016 has had a significant positive impact on the relationship with Nigeria, during which he met with the Nigerian President Mohammedu Buhari to discuss ways of countering extremist ideologies of terrorist groups. He also addressed the African peoples from the capital of Abuja, saying that extremist and terrorist groups distort the image of Islam, portraying it as a religion of violence and blood, and this must be addressed and refuted. The Grand Imam also visited the refugees’ camp in the Nigerian capital of Abuja, so as to emphasize an underlying message that confirms the solidarity of Al-Azhar with the displaced people who suffered from wars and conflicts.
In the same context, the Nigerian Ambassador to Cairo stressed, in November 2018, that his country is keen on appointing graduates of Al-Azhar University in the highest offices in the country, due to the great prominence of Al-Azhar in the Nigerian society and to benefit from the knowledge they gained during years of schooling.
The Holy Azhar also sends medical and relief convoys to Nigeria to alleviate the sufferings of those affected. Dozens of medicine school professors of all specialties from Al-Azhar University take part in these convoys.
On September 25, 2018, the President of Al-Azhar University received two delegations from Nigeria, the first from the University of Kano State and the other was from the Nigerian National Universities Commission which included the Executive Director of the Commission, the head of the delegation, the former Federal Minister of Education and the Officer of the National Program and UNESCO Office to discuss joint cooperation between Al-Azhar University and Nigerian universities.
Education and Scientific Research
The Ministry of Higher Education offers several scholarships to Nigerian students to study in Egyptian government and private universities. It also sends Egyptian experts to participate in the development of the educational system in Nigeria. The most significant visits and meetings between officials of the Egyptian Ministry of Higher Education and their counterparts in Nigeria in recent years are:
On August 9, 2014, the Minister of Higher Education received the Governor of the Nigerian state of Kano Rabiu Musa in Cairo to discuss the increase of the number of Nigerian students studying in Egyptian government and private universities, to address the difficulties they face and to meet the needs of the States of Nigeria in various disciplines.
On July 21, 2017, the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research reviewed a report on the role of the Egyptian Cultural Center in the State of Kano in activating mechanisms of cooperation between the Egyptian and Nigerian universities, during which he highly praised the educational and scientific relations between the two countries.
On September 9, 2018, the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Dr. Khaled Abdel Ghaffar received the Nigerian Ambassador to Egypt to discuss means of supporting joint cooperation between Egyptian and Nigerian universities, especially in the fields of education and scientific research. During the meeting, the Nigerian Ambassador praised the prominent role and the continuous support of Egypt to its African brothers in various fields, especially in the field of higher education and scientific research.
On September 25, 2018, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Dr. Khaled Abdul Ghaffar met with a delegation from the Nigerian National Universities Commission comprised from the former Federal Minister of Education Professor Ruqayyatu Ahmed Rufa’I, the Executive Director of the Commission Professor Peter A. Okebukola, in addition to a number of Nigerian universities presidents and the Nigerian ambassador to Egypt to discuss aspects of cooperation between the two countries in the fields of higher education and scientific research, quality education, the accreditation of study programs, the evaluation process, the equivalence of diplomas and the exchange of faculty members and students.
The delegation also visited the universities of Ain Shams, Kafr El-Sheikh, Alexandria, the British University and Future University to discuss with the presidents of those universities mechanisms of cooperation in the fields of higher education, scientific research and exchange of undergraduates and postgraduates. The visit also tackled with the Supreme Council of Universities in Egypt potential of the accreditation of the Master degree in Nigeria to facilitate the enrollment of Nigerian Ph.D. students in Egyptian universities. The delegation also visited the National Authority for Quality Assurance and Accreditation in Education in Cairo to discuss mechanisms of joint action between the two sides and to exchange expertise with Egypt in the area of quality and accreditation to promote educational institutions in Nigeria.
The Egyptian Cultural Center in Kano
The Egyptian Ministry of Higher Education established the Egyptian Cultural Center in Nigeria on April 16, 1962 in order to consolidate friendship and brotherhood as well as cultural ties between the peoples of Egypt and Nigeria. The center was established in the State of Lagos, but then moved to the northern State of Kano in 1964.
The Egyptian Center works to develop cultural cooperation and encourage cultural and educational exchange between the two countries. The Center includes a well-stocked library that contains many books and sources in various aspects of knowledge in Arabic and English, as well as Hausa and Yorba.
The Center organizes cultural and artistic activities over the year with the participation of artists, intellectuals and specialists from Egypt and Nigeria, and its activities attract considerable attention and interaction from the Nigerian public.
Cooperation in the Field of Media
Since its inception in 1953, the radio stations have been the first media communication tool between Egypt and the Nigerian people. This has included the radio stations directed to West Africa and Nigeria broadcasted in the languages of Hausa, Yoruba, Bambara and Wolof as well as the languages used in this region, such as English, French and Arabic languages.
Egypt and Nigeria also participated in the establishment and membership of the Pan African News Agency (PANA), which began its work in 1983 and is considered the gateway to Africa and its developments.
On the other hand, there is a Media office in the Egyptian Embassy in Abuja, affiliated to the State Information Service in Egypt. The Office works to enhance media relations between the two countries, to communicate with the Nigerian media and to encourage the mutual visits of media professionals.
On the other hand, a number of Nigerian media professionals receive annual media training courses in Egypt held by the Training Institute for African Media Communicators in Cairo. The Center has been performing this task since 1977, currently known as the Training and Media Studies Center. In 2018, the African Media Academy was founded to perform the same task.