…As Chelsea see off Porto to reach semis despite Taremi stunner***
France, on Tuesday, announced that its volume of trade with Nigeria in year 2020 dropped to $2.3 billion dollars, from $4.5 billion in 2019, as a result of COVID-19.
The French Minister in charge of Foreign Trade and Attractiveness, Mr Frank Riester, disclosed this at a meeting he held with the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), in Abuja, as part of his two-day official visit to Nigeria.
“We are optimistic of the future, when the crisis will be ending, because we have many companies that have settled here. We want a win-win partnership between our two countries.
“We have 100 companies that are settled in Nigeria, representing 10,000 people working in these companies and we want to increase our investments in Nigeria”, he said.
Riester added that the French Government wanted to help in the development of different states, by investing in both the private and public sectors, so as to deepen the relationship between the two countries.
He said that as the largest economy in Africa and the economic engine room of West Africa, Nigeria is indeed a major partner for France.
The minister said that the French Government was also putting in place measures that would allow more Nigerian companies to operate and invest in France.
“Tomorrow, I will meet some Nigeria companies that have already invested in France, as others are willing to invest in the country.
“These companies will be invited to a specific meeting in Paris in June, where President Emmanuel Macron will welcome many companies all over the world, and some of the companies will be from Nigeria, because we want more Nigerian investments in France.”
Riester added that the government was also putting in place policies that would encourage more Nigerian investment in France, while the French government was also willing to assist Nigeria to tackle insecurity.
The Chairman of the NGF, Gov. Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, commended the French government for its interest in Nigeria, especially in the states of the Federation.
Fayemi, represented by Gov. Simon Lalong of Plateau, described the meeting, aimed at strengthening the bilateral relationship between Nigeria and France, as fruitful.
He said that the meeting sought ways of boosting France’s collaboration and investment in Nigeria, in particular with the state governments.
Speaking later in an interview with newsmen on the ongoing strike by the Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) who are protesting the non-implementation of financial autonomy for the nation’s judiciary, Lalong said that state governors were not against financial autonomy for the judiciary.
Lalong, who said that the governors were already consulting with JUSUN, added that the NGF would be meeting on Wednesday, to finalize the issue, as they did not need any Order 10, to implement financial autonomy for the judiciary, since they played key role in the passage of the financial autonomy legislation.
He, however, said that certain criteria had to be put in place, for financial autonomy for the judiciary to commence at the state level.
Lalong said that financial autonomy was not about finances, but to strengthen the institution.
“You don’t wake up one day and say you are doing financial autonomy, because a law is passed, there must be processes.
“For instance, as a former Speaker, I will tell you that you cannot do financial autonomy until you establish a service commission. You must establish a state Allocation Committee. All these are steps towards autonomy.
“You don’t achieve autonomy in a day. We did it in the National Assembly, and there was no Order 10 for implementation. It took them stages. The federal government is aware.
“Members of the National Assembly, who are Governors today were members who fought for the autonomy, so how can we be against the autonomy”, Lalong asked.
In another development, Chelsea hung on to reach the Champions League semi-finals with a 2-1 aggregate win, despite Mehdi Taremi’s stunning overhead kick in added time handing Porto a 1-0 victory in the quarter-final second leg on Tuesday.
The substitute had been responsible for his side’s only attempt on target as they chased a 2-0 deficit from last week’s first leg, but he provided an emphatic response to in a cagey game with his acrobatic strike deep into added time.
Thomas Tuchel’s side had a healthy lead from last week’s away game in Seville and had to withstand an intense start from Porto in their home leg back at the Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium, the venue of both games due to Portugal’s coronavirus restrictions.
Porto’s Jesus Corona closed down Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy early on, but failed to make the most of the keeper’s botched pass.
The Mexican winger missed another good chance later in the half when he shuffled past Ben Chilwell in the area only to blast over the crossbar.
Chelsea’s Mason Mount and Christian Pulisic each came close to breaking the deadlock after the interval but the Londoners were more focused on keeping Porto at bay.
“We accepted what was needed, it was a tough, tough fight,” Tuchel told reporters.
“Maybe on the television, it was not so nice to watch, but on the sidelines, it was a very intense game, a very fast game.
“It was very hard to play against them to escape the pressure but with every minute we did it better and better.”
Taremi’s last-gasp strike prevented them from keeping a clean sheet, but Chelsea still managed to reach the semi-finals of Europe’s top competition for the first time since 2014.
They will meet either Liverpool or Real Madrid in the last four, with the Spaniards holding a 3-1 lead in the other tie ahead of Wednesday’s second leg.
“We’re buzzing, it doesn’t get better than that,” said Chelsea’s Mount.
“We could have played better but just getting through was at the forefront of our minds and we did that tonight.
“We knew as a team we had to work our socks off. We knew what the final result was if we won.”
Porto coach Sergio Conceicao said he was “extremely proud” of his side for going toe-to-toe with the richer Premier League side, who spent more than 10 times as much money as his side in last year’s transfer window.
“We did not let Chelsea’s players, who are of the highest level, create many chances,” he said.
Goalscorer Taremi added: “We played a great game, we showed that we are a great team, but unfortunately my goal wasn’t enough.”
Taremi was suspended for the first leg along with top scorer Sergio Oliveira and started the game on the bench after picking up a knock in Porto’s win at Tondela, at the weekend.
The Iranian striker was introduced midway through the second half and instantly gave his side more bite in attack, becoming their first player to test Mendy, even though his header lacked enough venom to beat the keeper.
Mendy was powerless to stop his thunderous volley, but Porto had less than two minutes of added time to find another goal to force extra-time and Chelsea clung on to their advantage.